Spoken word poetry comes to Manual


Savanna Vest

Speak Your Word, a performance poetry club, will begin its pilot year at Manual this month following a student-body decision-making council [SBDM] review and approval of the club.

Auzzie Dodson (12, YPAS D&P), the student who presented the club to the SBDM, said that there was an unmet need for providing students the opportunity to express themselves through presentation poetry.

“It’s lacking here. You know, One Blue Wall exists, and J&C does their literary magazines, but there isn’t really a focal poetry club here, especially not a slam poetry club. I really felt that without there being a magnet for it, we could at least have a club for it,” Dodson said. 

Auzzie Dodson performs for Young Poets of Louisville at the River City Invitational for slam poetry.

Ms. Becky Slagle (English) is the club’s teacher sponsor.

Dodson said that she has arranged for Speak Your Word to collaborate with Young Poets of Louisville, a city-wide non-profit organization that aims to give teenagers the opportunities to develop and share their poetry within an accepting environment.

Mackenzie Berry, a Manual alumna, started Young Poets of Louisville in 2015. Dodson has been a member of the Board for Young Poets of Louisville since the organization’s inception.

The partnership aims to give Manual students a practical space to implement the techniques that they will have learned during workshops with the slam poetry organization by presenting their own poetry.

Dodson said that the club itself will seek to help students develop and improve in their poetic writing and presentation skills.

“I would like to have people like local poets come in and do workshops,” Dodson said. “I want to get Speak Your Word implemented into Young Poets so that [students] can go to the slams that Young Poets does. I don’t want this to just be a Manual thing; it really needs to be implemented into the community.”

The SBDM council approved the spoken word poetry club at the monthly SBDM meeting on Oct. 5 when Dodson and Slagle presented the club as an outlet for student creativity and expression.

Several students said similar sentiments regarding the outreach and opportunities that a spoken word poetry can provide.

“I think the club will definitely help students express themselves on a wide range of topics, especially controversial things like the [Black Lives Matter] movement and more personal things like identity,” Hayden Larkin (11, HSU) said.

Dodson said that the club had planned its first interest meeting for Oct. 20, and she and Slagle expect to hold biweekly meetings.

“. . . to other people, [the club] can help give them a voice that they maybe haven’t found yet or that they want to express more publicly,” Larkin said.

“It’s going to be a work in progress because it is a new club,” Dodson said. “I just want anyone who decides to be a part of it to grow into their work like I have. I want it to be something that’s an outlet for the students here because poetry is a really great way to do that.”