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April 20, 2007

Slam dunk for aspiring poets

by Eve Gleichman, Online Editor-in-Chief
Three minutes. No props. Original poetry only. The rules are clear for Blair's second annual Poetry Slam, which took place in the media center tonight as part of the Blair Fair festivities.

For Junior Jacob Weisman, they're simple enough. He's memorized his poems and sits tonight on the edge of his seat in anticipation for his turn on stage. But overcoming nervousness and a big crowd isn't his only hurdle; he's got Asperger's Syndrome, a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by problems with social and communication skills.

But Weisman's second place award out of 20 competitors may have proven that communication issues ain't no thang for this aspiring rapper. "I have managed to overcome my Asperger's," he says. "Each of my poems has a different meaning, message, or portrayal of who I am. This is one way that I express my emotions."
Poetry slam winners from left to right: Rex Jarrett, Jessica Diaz-Hurtado, and Jacob Weisman. Alex Lutz
Poetry slam winners from left to right: Rex Jarrett, Jessica Diaz-Hurtado, and Jacob Weisman.


While Weisman's rap earned him the number two spot tonight, sophomore Jessica Diaz-Hurtado takes home blue with her fast-paced slam poem which entwines three stories addressing the struggles of dark-skinned Latinos. A Latino herself half Colombian, half Salvadorian Diaz-Hurtato says her poem holds special meaning in her life. "It's important that [this suffering] ends," she says.

Diaz-Hurtato's secret to a strong performance? Well, she's not entirely sure yet; this is her first ever performance in front of a crowd. "I've only read my poems to people I'm close to," she says. "This is my first time sharing in front of a crowd."

With tight time restraints, Weisman chooses two original raps "Taking it Back" and "Do You Know" to pack into his allotted three minutes. He lets the words fly by with enunciation and confidence and earns loudest ovation of the night and plenty of fan attention (four sound recorders and a request for a repeat of his pieces, to be precise) after the show.

Media center specialist Lisa Hack, who helped coordinate the event, says that Jacob's "wonderful rhythm and stage presence" is just part of the quantum leap in talent at this year's slam. "I think the kids who came were really poets," she says. "The poems were more thoughtful, more intense."

Perhaps these are the qualities that earned Junior Rex Jarrett whose autobiographical rap details a dark life shielded by an "emotional bullet-proof vest" his third place title.

The presentations are not limited to slam poetry and rap verses. Junior Sara Cohen's ode to a boy's white sneakers the "perfect canvass" for a myriad of colors that bring us back to elementary school valentine coloring, and Senior Braulio Salas's microscopic look at words also receive much attention from the crowd. Junior Ben Simon, too, kicks off the slam with an anti-ode to "flakers," a noun, he explains, referring to a person full of empty promises.

Hack says she likes the Poetry Slam for the unexpected talent it brings around each year. "There's this group of poetry-writing kids that no one knows about," she says. "The slam shows a different side." Weisman says it gives people passion to relate to and to appreciate. "I love doing this," he says. "I thrive on this. I rely on this to live."





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  • Corrie on April 21, 2007 at 1:31 PM
    Yay Eve!
    Jacob did an awesome job.
  • regretful on April 21, 2007 at 8:34 PM
    i wish i went
  • ... on April 21, 2007 at 10:22 PM
    i went to the slam and Jacob was sooo good. You would have no idea unless you went. My favorite. Definately going (maybe saying a poem!) next year!
  • Jumi on April 22, 2007 at 10:27 AM
    i am so proud of jessica diaz for doing this.
  • lets hear em on April 22, 2007 at 12:55 PM
    print some copies of the poems, or upload video or audio performances!
  • .. on April 23, 2007 at 3:32 PM
    Yeah, I missed the Blair Fair, but I also want to see some of the poems.
  • Jacob Weisman (View Email) on April 24, 2007 at 4:34 PM
    If you seek poems here then poems you shall receive: Taking it Back Im a fire-breathing dragon that expels so much heat that Im clearly exothermic. And you take it all in and shiver therefore your endosquirmic. Oh snap little white boy can rap I thought that was only done by gangsters with gats that go rata-tat-tat. Oh my God hes not even done with the first half of the first verse. And just try and say Im out of rhymes and see how much more I disperse. And flow just like a water fountain yet at the same time remain as rock solid as mountains. And seeing you pouting wont make you any better or wetter. Or for that matter increase the amount of your cheddar. Which as a result of constant spending will soon be put through the shredder. A young man with a heart of pure gold but is struggling in this game since he has 0 records sold. And dont call me King Midas cause I havent yet made records platinum. And you say your rhymes are cream but all cream does is fatten them. So that means my words are fruits, veggies, dairy, meat, and grains. They taste good to your ears and are good for your brain. And know this, stepping to with commercial lyrics wont get you far. Cause I will school you with the skills that Bruce Lee used to Slay Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I combine the best moves of different skills while taking pills and seeing people busted off drug deals. While watching the present tense become the past which forever lasts. And going from what you see to saw a litte boy who used to play on the teeter totter grows into a man who becomes a master plotter. Kind of like Goddard drawing up original designs that turn dreams into reality and involves no sinful fatalities. Did you catch that or did you miss it like a heartbroken lover who can only hover over their own self pity. While they sit out in the cold lost beginning to frost until they completely freeze and all of their hopes are blown away by the breeze. And Ive been there done that turned around got slapped embraced rap and was brought back to my senses by acknowledging the presence of others. So I then checked my clock and made some recalibrations. Because only when frozen will it have to correct observations. Yes a stop watch calculating rhyme to time ratios. But enough of this talking deal a hand of gin. You bet first than Im all in. Now since none of you can see this track, And because your bet wager was hiphop than I guess Im taking it back.
  • Esaite on May 21, 2007 at 1:20 PM
    Jessica, o jessica! I'm so happy you performed your poetry...I wish I could have been there!
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