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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Meet the Texas Grand Slam poets

Dallas%2C+Texas%26%23160%3BFull-time+poet%26%238220%3BOne+of+the+most+satisfying+things+about+performing+poetry+is+finding+someone+that+relates.+You+think+that+you%26%238217%3Bre+the+only+one+that+goes+through+this+or+there%26%238217%3Bs+nobody+out+there+that+understands+you%2C+and+then+you+do+a+poem+about+it%2C+and+somebody+comes+up+and+tells+you+you%26%238217%3Bre+not+alone.%26%238221%3BInterviewed+by+Zach+Kluver%26%23160%3B
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Dallas, Texas 

Full-time poet

“One of the most satisfying things about performing poetry is finding someone that relates. You think that you’re the only one that goes through this or there’s nobody out there that understands you, and then you do a poem about it, and somebody comes up and tells you you’re not alone.”

Interviewed by Zach Kluver

 

Forty-two poets from across the country will converge first on stages in Bryan, then in Rudder for the fifth-annual Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival this Friday and Saturday. The Battalion Life & Arts writers spoke with some of the festivals’ competitors as a part of a week-long series about the poets. Here are some of the artists’ takes on their work.

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  • Austin, Texas

     

    Tutoring manager at a private educational company

    “I’m told that a lot of my poems are very political, satirical and feminist. It’s what I’m passionate about, and I’m a woman with a lot of privilege because I’m white and educated. I can talk about whatever I want and there’s no adversity. I want to do something with my time that serves others. I could become a politician and ensure that I get my words out there. So if I’m on a poetry platform, I want to give people the vocabulary to speak up on their behalf.”

    Interviewed by Rylie Hester

     

    Photo by PROVIDED
  • Chickasha, Okla.

       

    11th grade English teacher

    “I started writing journals when I was very young, and when I was about 15 or so, my journals started turning into poems rather than journal entries. So I just started writing, and I was a big reader of poetry — I love the classics. I love Walt Whitman and William Blake and all those romantics. I’ve always been — it’s not one of those things where I just found poetry. Poetry’s been with me my entire life.”

    Interviewed by Mason Morgan

     

    Photo by PROVIDED
  • Baton Rouge, La.

    Marketing director and teacher artist for “Forward Arts”

    “I write a lot about racism, sexism, heterosexism, misogyny.  I look to try to undue and unpack a lot of things that I personally absorbed coming up. A lot of my writing is focused on the un-learning of problematic things I learned in my upbringing.”

    Interviewed by Mason Morgan

     

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  • Tyler, Texas

     

    Student at the University of Texas at Tyler

     

    “I usually write about things that hurt me in some way or things that make me feel negative. Through the process of slam poetry, I make it into something that makes me stronger.”

     

     Interviewed by Jena Seidemann

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  • Kilgore, Texas

     

    Sales Associate at Earthbound Trading Company

     

    “I slam about love and how I love to be the person that I am because that’s who I was made to be. All the crazy, all the insanity, all the struggles that come along with them.”

     

     Interviewed by Taylor Siskind

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  • Houston, TX

     

    Stephen F. Austin State University graduate and part-time employee at Teavana

     

    “… In the last year, I really started to write directly from experience, and it’s a lot scarier because it’s definitely a lot more personal and it’s not stuff you want to talk about … I think it makes for poetry that’s a lot more honest and a lot more relatable at the end of the day.”

     

     Interviewed by Olivia Knight

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  • “I’ve liked hearing people describing [slam] poetry … as ‘Working Man’s Poetry’ or ‘Poor Man’s Poetry’ because it’s something that is unlike academic poetry or really classical poetry … I think it is important because it just brings everyone together, and it’s very cathartic. It’s very good at just — it fosters a really good community and it’s really good at being cathartic and it’s really good at giving people a safe space.”

    Interviewed by Taylor Siskind

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  • “I journal religiously … It’s just feelings or raw emotion, just recapturing my days … Then there’s poetry time where I spend my time free writing and kind of write down whatever comes to mind, and convey it artistically and try to explore ideas and emotions and experiences … If I start to feel like a theme or some concrete work that I do feel strongly about sharing, I memorize, then I’ll start constructing poetry out of all this word work.”

    Interviewed by Jack Riewe

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  • “I’ve done a lot with writing about religion — growing up in the church, growing up in a Christian setting, and then moving away from that and starting to ask questions at a pretty young age in the church … There’s a lot with being raised in a religious community …  a lot of great things about it, but there’s also a lot of stuff that, for me personally, I’ve had to unlearn … I work through my life experiences through my poetry.”

    Interviewed by Mason Morgan

    Photo by PROVIDED
  • Laredo, TX

    Student at Texas A&M International College 

    “Right now my favorite poem I’ve written is called ‘13.’ I was diagnosed with cancer a few months back and was able to beat it. I’m in remission so that’s what ‘13’ is about. I write about stuff that I see, that I feel. All of my poems have a little truth of my life in them, and a lot of them are descriptive.”

     

    Interviewed by Sidney Johnson 

    Photo by PROVIDED
  • Albuquerque, NM

    High school teacher 

    “I love making people laugh, so my lighter poetry is geared towards comedy. I kind of have these failed dreams of being a comedian or a rockstar, and I wound up a poet. So I keep a lot of that lyricism and comedy in my work. One of my favorite songs is ‘A Boy Named Sue’ by Johnny Cash. Shel Silverstein wrote it, and it has a lot of great elements in it and it’s really humorous. Shel Silverstein was one of the first poets I read. So when I write, I keep it in the back of my mind and wonder if what I’m writing is just funny to me or if it’s universal humor.”

     

    Interviewed by Rylie Hester 

    Photo by PROVIDED
  • Tampa, Fla.

    Boys and Girls Club worker

    “When I slam I make sure that I am looking right. For me to slam I have to go to the slam looking like I’m ready to slam. You wouldn’t go to a battle without your armor. When I go to slam, I go to impress.”

     

    Interviewed by Sidney Johnson

    Photo by Provided
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