Word Hammer slam poetry raises funds for nationals, brings poet enthusiasts together
From reciting poems about being in love with a pet turtle to suffering from a broken heart, there was nothing off-limits for the poets and writers of Word Hammer.
Students filled several seats of the Park Library Auditorium on Thursday to listen to the poetic tales of Word Hammer, a poetry slam group.
One of the founders of the group, Florida senior Richard Branson said he always joked around saying Word Hammer means “We’re going to smash things with our words, we’ll use our words to break it down.” At Thursday’s show, this was the performers’ goal and it ended with a round of applause.
Each poet performed their own material for three minutes without being able to use any props.
“It was fantastic,” Word Hammer president and Vicksburg senior Ariel Vandenbsoch said of the pots’ performances. “…We had fantastic judges, we had a fantastic audience, and fantastic performances.”
During the performances, five random judges were selected from the audience to rate each poet’s performance from a scale of one to ten. Detroit senior Joshua Taylor won the first slam of the year.
“For the next slam what I really just want to do is—not really I, but we as a group—I want to get some group poetry in,” Taylor said. “Because when I was a freshman here, we went to this thing called nationals, and we placed 10th in nationals. The thing about nationals is it’s like all group poetry … and when you see it, it’s an amazing and beautiful thing.”
Word Hammer used this slam not only to entertain the audience, but to also fundraise. They made $87. 80 and are continuing to fundraise so they will be able to return to nationals this year.
Branson was the MC of the show and said it was very exciting due to the audience interaction.
“I thought it was really well,” Branson said. “I’m always excited to see an audience that gets excited about poetry. Slams can’t work without the audience being there in the moment with the performers and tonight they were and I thought it was great.”
Sophomore Arielle Walsh came to her first slam to support her roommate who participated in the slam.
“I really like it so far,” Walsh said. “It’s interesting to see. It kind of shows you another side of people.”
Lansing native Sheryl Lemonde came to support her daughter, freshman Alysia Lemonde.
“I’m really proud of her,” Lemonde said. “I felt she did a wonderful job. She didn’t look nervous to me, but I knew she was because she told us beforehand she was and none of them portrayed being nervous, though I’m sure they were.”
Senior Helen Collins performed one of her poems, “Leaving Wonderland” during the show. The Negaunee native has been slamming for three years at Word Hammer and has gotten use to the nerves she feels when going on stage. She doesn’t feel as if it’s a completion among poets, but a way to help improve her skills.
“I’ve always thought of it less than a completion and more of a self-improvement exercise. A lot of what we do at Word Hammer is just get each other ready. It’s always been a team activity where we help each other get ready and improve our craft. So it doesn’t really seem like a completion, though we are being graded by the judges,” she said.
Freshman Lakeisha Richards, from Sault Ste. Marie, came to the event with a friend and enjoyed several performances.
“I thought it was really good, I liked it,” Richards said. “We think we’re going to come back for the next one.”
Vandenbosch hopes students not only enjoyed themselves but will continue to support the group.
“They should come to the next one because we are really awesome at what we do and it’s an enjoyable experience because we’re really passionate about what we do, we love what we do.”
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