Great Lake Review holds poetry slam event to showcase student writers

The Great Lake Review held its second annual slam poetry competition on March 7 in the Lake Effect Café.

Approximately 60 students attended to cheer on and vote for their favorite performances, as the 11 performers stood in front of the room and read or recited their poems.

Each performer had an individual style and rhythm as they presented.

“It’s not even really so much about poetry, it’s a performance,” said Great Lake Review editor-in-chief Ethan Gormley. “It’s more than just reading a poem, it’s feeling a poem.”

The first slam poetry competition, “Speak Up and Slam,” was held last year, and Gormley was impressed with the turnout. Gormley, a senior creative writing major, had the idea for “Speak Up and Slam” during his literary citizenship class last year.

“I thought this was a good way to reach out into the writing community and provide a fun event that has some competition to it,” Gormley said.

A wide range of topics were discussed, from love and betrayal to body image and race.

“These people put their heart and soul into it, and they’re willing to get up in front of a microphone and say that,” Gormley said. “I wouldn’t be able to do that; I don’t know a lot of people that could.”

Justin Brantley, an Oswego State senior, has been writing poems for almost three years. He performed his poem “I Pledge Allegiance to the Struggle.” The poem was a “tribute to some of the fallen soldiers over the past year from police brutality,” Brantley said.

Ryann Crofoot’s poem, “To the Future Husband,” won first place in the competition. Crofoot is a junior at Oswego State and has been writing poetry since her freshman year. The inspiration for her poem came from one of her favorite poets, Sarah Kay.

Crofoot said she was very nervous to perform, as it was her first time presenting a poem outside of the classroom.

“I thought, ‘I hope I don’t mess everything up and make a fool out of myself,’” Crofoot said.
“I was really impressed by how many people came and how many people read. I was kind of shocked that I won.”

Crofoot’s prize was a $75 gift certificate to the river’s end bookstore in Oswego.

“There are a couple books in series that haven’t been released yet, so I might hang on to it until then or I might just go blow it right now,” Crofoot said.

Many attendees came to enjoy the performances and to deepen their appreciation of the craft.

“It’s really impressive because I can’t do it,” said Eloise Colson, a junior chemistry major at Oswego State. “It’s not something you hear a lot, so I would say it’s nice to discover.”

Many students appreciated the talent and perspectives offered by the performers.

“It was cool to see the community that’s here; there’s definitely a diverse group of people,” Brantley said.

Colson was also impressed by the diversity at the event.

“There was not just one type of people. They were all doing the same thing, but they are from different backgrounds.”

Funds from the Great Lake Review are already set aside for next year’s “Speak Up and Slam” competition. Brantley said he would recommend the event to his friends to attend and consider participating in.

“Any poetry event helps you kind of think about yourself introspectively and see the talent we have at Oswego,” Brantley said. “It’s important to know what’s going on in your school and it’s a good opportunity to kick back and relax.”

The Great Lake Review publishes a literary magazine every semester for Oswego State. The magazine features students’ fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama and art.