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Teens to bust rhymes at library

Poetry slam a first

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 06, 2013 06:00 am

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Teen Poetry Slam
Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.
St. Albert Public Library
5 St. Anne Street (in St. Albert Place)
Call 780-459-1530 or visit for more information.

Teens are a tough audience for literary events and poetry is a tough sell too. Despite this, the St. Albert Public Library is forging ahead with a poetry slam this Saturday afternoon and organizers are expecting it to be a game changer.

Teen services co-ordinator Geoff Manderscheid is unguardedly optimistic.

“This is going to be a good one. I was thinking to myself when I was putting this together, don’t just do something because it’s National Poetry Month. I made some strong connections with the high school teachers and I understood that there are kids that are ready to compete for this. They practiced for it and they just need a forum to do it.”

The competitive event will feature local teens reading their own original poetry that will be judged by a panel of some major names in the local poetry scene. There will be writer/rapper (and current writer-in-residence at the Edmonton Public Library) Omar Mouallem, 2008 National CBC Poetry Faceoff champ Mary Pinkoski, Edmonton’s current poet laureate Anna Marie Sewell and the library’s writer-in-residence Natasha Deen.

“It’s going to be one of those library firsts that I hope we can build on and keep doing it every year,” Manderscheid said.

He added that it won’t be a typical poetry reading. These slams are known for having a bit more pizzazz, especially with teens on the microphone.

“I think slam poetry does have a little bit of an edge to it in the sense that it has a little bit of street cred,” he said. “What we may think of the poet standing up and whispering on ambiguously about nature and their feelings … we don’t get that. I think it’s a little more clear in its presentation and its expression of emotion. It’s more based on human emotion and personal experience.”

He added that the fact that it’s a competition also adds a lot of interest to the proceedings.

“People are here to go head to head,” he said. “They’re not reading from a piece of paper. This is all memorized. These are more performance pieces. They’re basically taking you out of your world and transporting you into theirs with their words. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”


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