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Saturday, April 19, 2014
The spoken word comes alive at North
Shane Molinari/Herald
Niyaya Rowe, a freshman at Valley Stream North High, recited her work in the school’s first poetry slam on April 18.

In recent months there has been a lot of attention paid to budgets and testing in the world of education, especially in Valley Stream, but all the while students are creatively expressing themselves in and out of the classrooms.

Ninth-graders at North High School recently got together to share their written works at the school’s first ever poetry slam. Freshman Helena Richard, 14, took home the top prize after sharing her poem about how she overcame adversity when her father left home while she was a child.

Heading into the event, which was held on April 18, Richard said she wasn’t sure what to expect but was relieved when it was over. “When I was first up there I was very nervous,” she said, “but I kind of forgot about everything else after a while.”

English teachers Kristen Giambrone and Laura Dunham organized the event with the help of their colleagues Kelli O’Donohue and Nicole Ryan. Dunham made a request to have Megan Falley, a professional spoken word poet and Valley Stream South High graduate, come to North for a two-day poetry workshop with the school’s ninth-grade English classes.

Falley came to North last month and Dunham said the students really took an interest in what she had to say. Dunham described spoken word poetry as “raw” and “current.”

“It’s not a poem that you read off the page,” she said, “it’s a poem that begs to be released with words to an audience. It’s a whole different way of writing poetry and I think it really speaks to this generation of students.”

For Richard, spoken word poetry is something she enjoyed learning about from Falley and a style of poetry she took a quick interest in. “I never thought you could write poetry the way she did and it inspired me to write my own,” she said. “Spoken word is almost like having a conversation with someone and you don’t have to rhyme it. I just love the way you can speak to a person but it’s still poetry.”

Following Falley’s workshop, Dunham and Giambrone hatched an idea to have each of the ninth grade students write their own poems and share with their classes, ultimately culminating in a poetry slam.

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