Vivian Lister writes:
For this, Lawnswood school's fifth slam, students took the 2012 Litfest theme Lingo in order to explore what writing and performing their own words meant to them.
And, as always from these brilliant young people, there was a breathtaking range of responses, from intensely personal and poignant confessions of youthful sorrows to agitprop political calls for change and justice. Along the way, there were cool musings about the clarity of thought that writing can bring and the recognition of writing as a balm for personal confusion and sorrow. There was also quirky humour and sheer delight in verbal play plus strong, powerful music, sung and played with great style and fervour.
After this altogether impressive display of talent, the three judges, Richard Wilcocks from Headingley Litfest, Raftery the Poet and sixth former Toni Busby (star of last year’s Slam) had the almost impossible task of selecting three winners.
They gave the award for greatest personal achievement to Kane Francis for his poem celebrating the lives and achievements of strong black women like Rosa Parks.
The award for best overall performance was given to Imogen Chillington whom the judges praised for her versatility - her ‘cornucopia of talents' according to Raftery the Poet.
The best poem award was given for More than just a story - Uganda by Kizzy Jones, described by the judges as ‘a powerful, sophisticated and engaged work’. The poem is a reaction to video footage on the warlord Kony.
The judges also gave special mention to Ingi Hughes, praising her beautiful lyrics and melodic voice and guitar, and to Fatima el Jack for the passion and powerful rhythmic intensity of her poem, Motherland.
Amanda Stevenson, the Head of English, emphasised how by taking part in the slam, each student was indeed a winner. She highlighted the importance of the personal journey for each slammer and how each had gained self awareness and self esteem during the weeks of workshops and rehearsal. She congratulated the slammers not only for their sustained effort and enthusiasm but on their constant support and encouragement of each other. It was certainly inspiring to see these young people from such a range of ages and backgrounds expressing full hearted delight for each performer. And it was not only the performers who impressed but the posses of friends who turned out to cheer, stomp and clap.
Parents also clapped, whooped and stomped along with their children and variously found the slam "uplifting!", "inspirational!" and "fantastic- it gave me as a parent a pride in the school!"
Perhaps the last word about this Slam should go to Michelle Scally-Clarke, our brilliant slam facilitator: "What we’ve given these young people is poetry and that is now theirs for the rest of their lives".
The Slammers – Winners all
All these young people attended the slam workshops and/or performed at the slam. Jervai Buchanan; Toni Busby; Nathan Chadwick; Imogen Chillington; Fatima El-Jack; Kane Francis; Keiran Gateley; Kacey Ann Hibbert; Ingi Hughes; Kizzy Jones; Jasmine Joseph; Josie Lee; Harry Loulie; Alpha Masiyiwa; Eva Moran; Joel O’Mara; Michael Quean; Gloria Sibanda; Vimbai Sibanda; Jordan Stanislavski; Inigo Webber;
Jasmine Williams; Keiran Andor Wilson; The Year 9 Class Band
Kane, Imogen and Kizzy, with Michelle Scally Clark:
Photo by Richard Wilcocks