Louder Poetry

February 2013

Maine West - English - Mr. Eric Coval

Foundation Award - $950

Over the past three years, buzz around the poetry slam team at Maine West has taken off, growing considerably in numbers as well as success. Two years ago we had one individual qualify for the semi-finals of the Chicago Youth Poetry Festival. This year the entire team made semi-finals together, and one student even made it to the finals round as an individual poet. In addition to competition success, the number of students attending our workshops has soared. This number will only grow over time as well as the culture grows.

As we try to build on the writing culture throughout the school, certain events, such as open mic nights and in-school poetry slams, play an important role in the growth and exposure of this writing community. The proposed audio system is necessary to exhibit the hard-work and creative minds of our students. A quality sound system is essential because every word is important in performance poetry and so much of the performance is based on pronunciation and inflection. Furthermore, four microphones and stands are needed as group pieces are often necessary for competitions. One microphone does not suffice for a group piece since as many as four people need individual microphones. Without each poet using his/her own microphone, the poems become very choppy and ruin the entire performance.

At Maine West we hold an event called “Louder Than a Lawnmower,” a suburban poetry slam which includes many local schools competing for suburban supremacy. This past year, the 4th annual “Lawnmower” competition packed the Little Theater at Maine West. Also, we recently held an in-school Poetry Slam, each period of the school day. Many classes attended this slam to expose students to the genre of poetry, and approximately 1,400 students attended over the course of the day! Events like these need a high-quality sound system to allow the work of these poets to be truly appreciated.

Over the last three years we have used the sound system from the Maine East English Department, as they have graciously lent it to us for events. The problems with borrowing this system include the time and effort it takes to transport the system; the system is quite heavy, has several components, and requires several trips in and out of each building transport it. A great deal of time, energy, and gas is used to move the system from building to building. Maine West students would benefit greatly from the purchase of a new sound system.