Words, and their beauty in poetry, recently came to life at BlueValleySchool, in the western San José suburb of Escazú, at its fifth annual Poetry Slam.
Middle and high school students dedicate the months leading up to these vibrant nights living and breathing the poetic, and then it all culminates in a special night when teachers, administrators and parents join in to practice the art form. This year’s High School Slam was no exception.
What began five years ago as an evening of poetry recitation for middle school students has now expanded to two nights, one for middle school and one for high school, in which the art of performing poetry excites the whole school.
The Poetry Slam, as it is known, consists of a competition among students participating in three categories. First is the “Recited” category in which students recite a poem by another author; next is the “Original” category in which the student is the author of the poem; and last comes the “Class” category in which the entire class mounts a poem
Students are judged in each category on memorization, diction, poise and emotion.
Winners receive gift certificates at Librería Internacional bookstores, and the class wins a pizza party. Teachers, administrators and parents also recite poems, and there is always a musical interlude while the judges decide on the winners.
This year’s winner of the Recited category was Sofía Alvarado, a 10th-grader who was able to enhance the poem “Little White Lie,” by Tanya Stevens, with her stunning voice as she sang the words of a mother to her sleeping child about the secret truth of her father’s identity. Alvarado mesmerized the audience as the poem’s heartfelt story unfolded.
The Original category is always an amazing exhibition of individual talent; this year, themes of young love, suicide and freedom rang out in BlueValley’s auditorium, known as the “Sala Magna.” Catharina Schulze, a 12th-grader working toward her International Baccalaureate degree, bared her soul with her original poem titled “Who is My Reflection?”
She spoke directly to the audience with a perspective of inner pain that showed the honesty only a poem can capture.
As the moment of the Class category approached, the auditorium was abuzz and the classes geared up to perform their poems.
This year’s winner was the group of students from 11A who performed “Memories and the Senses,” an original poem by the group, which captured the meaning of the five senses and shared feelings of the class’s identity as they approach graduation. Incense burned, a flute sounded and the words of the poem echoed in the darkness, setting 11A apart from the other class poems.
Blue Valley School English Department Coordinator Martha Ortega, teacher of 11A, had this to say about the special event: “It is a team effort. It is the continuation of a dream. Dreams continue and this event is an inspiration, for the BlueValley community and for the adolescents we can inspire through poetry and literature.”