Teens Tackle Tough Topics At Tucson Poetry Slam
By Jude Joffe-Block
April 30, 2014
TUCSON — There’s a trend catching on with teenagers in Southern Arizona that is making their English teachers happy. Poetry — spoken word poetry — has a growing following in high schools.
Eleven teenagers recently competed in Tucson’s youth poetry slam championship. The contenders included a broad-shouldered 18-year-old named Jose Manuel Martinez.
“This is not your everyday poetry,” Jose said. “It is a lot more fun. It is active. It is crowd involving. You get up there and you get hyped.”
Jose has been participating in monthly workshops and slams put on by the Tucson nonprofit organization Spoken Futures.
The organization’s events are open to kids ages nine to 19. Some 90 young poets, coming from 15 schools, participated in Spoken Futures slams during the last year, according to organizers.
Today is the culmination. The championship slam.
“I used to be in so many sports, and then now I don’t do sports,” Jose said. “But I get the same adrenaline up here on the mic.”
About 150 people filled an auditorium on the University of Arizona’s campus to watch the competition. Five judges in the front row scored each poem on a 10-point scale.