Slam Poets Deliver Honest, Moving Performances in Accessible Environment

(From left) College sophomore Alison Kronstadt, College sophomore B.J. Tindal, College first-year Joseph Farago, College first-year Zachariah Claypole-White, College first-year Nina Austin, College first-year Annika Hansteen Izora and College sophomore Hannah Rosenberg perform a piece together at the OSlam! Showcase last Tuesday. The slam poetry event aimed to promote solidarity and accessibility in spoken word.

Effie Kline-Salamon

(From left) College sophomore Alison Kronstadt, College sophomore B.J. Tindal, College first-year Joseph Farago, College first-year Zachariah Claypole-White, College first-year Nina Austin, College first-year Annika Hansteen Izora and College sophomore Hannah Rosenberg perform a piece together at the OSlam! Showcase last Tuesday. The slam poetry event aimed to promote solidarity and accessibility in spoken word.

Clara Shannon

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As the lights dimmed, the excited chatter of faculty and students filled the tiny Lord Lounge in anticipation of Oberlin’s OSlam! Poetry Showcase on Tuesday, April 22. Three illuminated microphones sat in wait for performers. Abruptly, the chatter burst into explosive applause as the group members appeared on stage and the show began.

Part of Oberlin’s slam poetry group’s mission involves creating a space where art can be shared and accessible in a safe environment, a goal which it definitely achieved Tuesdaynight. After a brief preface on the seriousness of the content about to be performed, the group diffused the tension with a fun call-and-response of Beyoncé’s ‘“***Flawless,” with the words “OSlam, OSlam, OSlam!” incorporated at the end. The team performed for a large and highly engaged crowd, which was snapping and screaming in appreciation and solidarity throughout the night.

To begin, OSlam!’s newest members performed as part of the group for the first time. Although visibly nervous, the ‘newbies’ recited their poetry with bravery and received a wave of support fromthe audience in return.
The night continued with performances by each member of the OSlam! club, about topics including race, sexuality and love. Every member of the group gave a brave and memorable performance delivered with nothing less than breathtaking passion and hard-hitting emotional drive.

College sophomore B.J. “Bato” Tindal gave a terrific performance of a poem titled “Three Times Triceps,” full of unapologetic charisma, wit and humor that fully engaged the audience. His magnetism and charm wowed audiences as he performed the body image-themed poem. He also performed a beautiful and heart-warming poem dedicated to his mother.

Another standout performance of the night was OSlam! co-chair and College sophomore Alison Kronstadt’s “Get Him To The Greek,” a poem dedicated to a Vanderbilt student who reported her sexual assault. Kronstadt’s deliverywas chilling with lines like, “The beer in his hand is better than a ‘hello’ / Any doubt in his mind dissolves at the sight of what he wants / What he deserves,” that drew the audience in.

Another highlight of the night was College first-year Joseph Farago’s “The First Time You Called Me Crazy,” a love poem filled with sorrow, laughter and compassion. His delivery was charming and emotional, almost leaving him in tears. He received well-deserved applause that lasted longer than most.

Continuing the intense atmosphere, College first-year Annika Hansteen Izora captivated with pieces on topics ranging from childhood to heartbreak. Her performances were riveting, and she delivered her work with impeccable tonal control and raw turn of phrase.

College first-year Nina Austin also showed exemplary performance quality with her poem titled “Almost,” targeting domestic violence. It was a heartbreaking and affectingperformance that left the audience breathless but ecstatic, and received a huge wave of applause.

Works such as “Meeting Me” and “I Didn’t,” by College first-year Zachariah Claypole-White were similarly unforgettable. Claypole-White’s delivery, although more subdued than those of his fellow OSlam! members, was also well-received and added variety to the night, as his quieter take provided a pleasant contrast.

Slam poetry — one of the most intensely personal and passionate art forms — requires the ability to pull from within oneself and recite with an enormous amount of perseverance and courage. Every performer did just that on Tuesday. OSlam!’s mission to create a safe space for art was definitely accomplished. Throughout the night, audience members cheered, snapped, laughed and were almost moved to tears at the undeniable talent showcased. It was a true display of overwhelming love and support among artists and their peers.

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