Student poets slam GHH audience with emotions

Expect standing room only every time the bi-annual Poetry Slam is held on campus. Besides the seating provided in the GHH Atrium, there is additional seating on the first floor. And yet, year after year, audience members find themselves standing to watch the performances, packing the staircase and peering down from the second floor. 

Senior Skylar Moncada hosted the Poetry Slam and was joined in front of the audience by this semester’s judges: President Donald J. Farish, Chief Diversity Officer Ame Lambert, Professor Aaron Allen, Professor Autumn Quezada de Tavarez, Director of Media and Public Relations Ed Fitzpatrick, senior Julia Cusack, sophomore Irene Sanchez, and sophomore Gabrielle Baillargeon.


Karen Bilotti, the Associate Director for Tutorial Support Services and a key organizer for the Poetry Slam, chose 17 contestants for the competition. It wasn’t long before the content of students’ poems became serious, with many of the themes of the night centering on issues related to social justice.


At the end of the Slam, junior Melissa Mota was declared the winner.

“I am a strong believer in the power of our words, and our ability to share our thoughts, hurt, happiness, anger and frustration, through language and performance,” Mota said. “And that is why I do what I do. I slam for those who cannot speak for themselves in an effort to raise awareness about the issues afflicting real people, in real time.”

Senior and veteran slammer Nicola Alexander said that she prepared for the Poetry Slam by attending workshops with the other slammers.

At the workshops, attendees would complete writing prompts, share their work with one another, and receive constructive criticism from their peers.

Alexander is running a separate writing workshop called ‘Writer’s Anonymous,’ which meets on a weekly basis and welcomes all writers. 

“Bouncing ideas around with such a supportive group of people was a huge help in creating my poems,” Alexander said.

“A lot of thought went into deciding to do [the] Poetry Slam,” said senior Lin Lopez, the third-place winner. “I knew exactly which topic I wanted to write about and I knew I’d be very vulnerable doing so. It took a total of three months to write the first poem I performed. What inspired me the most were the strength and silence of other women on college campuses, and I wanted my poem to serve as a voice and a statement for the women who understandably don’t feel comfortable sharing a story that so many of us go through.

Lopez concluded that she looks forward to taking part in the Slam next semester, adding, “the amount of support and positivity I received afterwards made every ounce of doubt and fear I had prior to the day of the Slam worth it. It was an empowering experience.”

“Say it loud, say it proud,” Alexander said, hoping to share some advice for potential future slammers. “Slam poetry is different because it is spoken instead of written on a page. It is a beautiful form of poetry because the message within the poem is so immense, so involved, so incredibly urgent that it needs to be spoken and not read. If you are considering auditioning for the Slam, look to find a story, an experience, or a topic that makes you so incredibly passionate that you will absolutely burst if you don’t let it out of you. I am a firm believer that we all have a story to tell or something important to say. Bring this passion with you to auditions and let it shine through in your writing!”