Fast-talking Framingham High School senior Harry Meltzer ignited the 150 people in attendence during his fourth-round poem, Cool. "... put it on paper, write us the poem that makes poetry cool."
That goal was accomplished by the 28 Framingham High seniors who made it to Framingham High's 8th Annual Poetry Slam's final round held last night at the Amazing Things Art Center.
Framingham High English teacher Alison Courchesne brought this phenomena to the high school, when she joined the faculty in the spring of 2004. Courchesne told Framingham Patch, "I'd seen a poetry slam in the late 90s. I thought that it would be fun to start one at the school. It's taken off."
What started in Courchesne's classroom has grown to 50 teams with 2 to 5 students each. Now in its 8th year, preliminary poetry slam rounds were held at Framingham High, where students were randomly selected as judges.
This year's poetry slam final was co-sponsored by the Framingham Education Foundation and the FHS PTBO (Parent Teacher Booster Organization). Cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50 were offered for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, respectively.
Competition followed a national model for poetry slam. By the finals, the 50 teams had been narrowed down to 7 teams: Chiasmus, 3 Girls and a Guy, Intuition, Harry's-Chandrea's-Will's-Rachel's-Sara's Team (HSWRS), Maffei's Muses, and The Sistahs. Panda Poems replaced Yo, Yankees Son!, which had to cancel its appearance.
Last night's competition included four rounds in which each team could perform original poems as a solo, pair, or larger group. No mechanically generated sounds were allowed. Judges were randomly chosen from among audience members who had no connection to the competitors.
According to Will Cook, head of the English department at Framingham High, "Scores should range from 10.0 for the most beautiful poem ever, to 0.0 for one that should never have been written."
Cook invited the audience to boo the judges, but not the teams. One judge with consistently lower scores proved to be the Simon Cowell of the group.
Rhyming, rapping, rapturous recitations about high school, Facebook, life, and anything else touched and entertained the crowd.
Scores were so close that sometimes winners were chosen by a tenth of a percent.
Round one went to Chiasmus's poem Senioritis, performed by Alex Cook, Meg Wright, and Jennie Osber.
They wrote, "So there's this disease A debilitating disease An unstoppable disease Senioritis Senioristis Senioritis ... There is only one way To cure this disease The only way Is Summer! Summer! Summer!"
Highlights of round 2 included That Kid by Mafei's Muses, Catharsis by the fantastic ensemble team, The Sistahs, and the ultimate winner, Whatever Happened to the 90s by Meltzer of HSWRS.
In round 3, Intuition members snapped their fingers as they repeated, Know now the ledge before you fall off the edge.
3 Girls and a Guy delivered Speechless with rapid rhymes.
In the end, once again, a HSWRS team member won the round. Will Lynch's poem, James was touching and physical.
Lynch said, "James was a man." This night, Will was the man too.
Cameron Burke of Intuition, with hat on his head and heart on his sleeve, held the audience spellbound during his final poem in round 4.
This was followed by Meltzer's Cool, jammed packed with words and images - "sound, sense, saccharine, and sanguine," he said.
Cool cinched a win for HSWRS with 109.2 points. Second place was held by Intuition with 107.8 points, followed by The Sistahs with 105.7 points. Chiasmus was out-of-the money by one tenth of a point.
Clearly, there were only winners at the Framingham High Poetry Slam 2011. This event showcased the student's wit and depth. Combined with terrific writing and performance abilities, the results were inspiring.