June 18, 2021
By Casey Cirne
The pandemic didn’t stop 16 of LHS’ student poets from coming together virtually on June 9 to share their love of the spoken work at the 19th Annual Spring Poetry Slam.
Senior Faiza Chowdhury, who has participated in a total of eight LHS poetry slams, earned a first place award for a second consecutive year.
“There’s something very satisfying in being able to say that I’ve done something I love from the beginning of freshman year to the end of senior year. The environment is also so welcoming and inspiring,” Chowdhury said.
She said her poem, which is titled “Gaia,” was inspired by the Earth.
“The environment has always been where my passions lie. I had a hard time thinking of ideas, but when writing about the Earth, it came so much more naturally,” Chowdhury said.
She said students who participate in a poetry slam should have confidence in their work.
“Look at your poem from an outsider’s perspective, and you’ll understand how much emotion and intelligence you have to show the world,” Chowdhury said. “Don’t self-depreciate or say that your poem is bad because it definitely is not.”
Junior Isabella DiPisa took home second place for her poem “This is Change.” This was DiPisa’s third time participating in an LHS poetry slam.
“The performances were deeply moving. It was a trying year for most of us, and I think the poets skillfully channeled their feelings into their writings. Although the slam was conducted over Zoom, it still felt extremely personal and intimate.”
“I was super nervous at first, but then I remembered I wanted to put my heart into it, and I kind of transformed my anxiety in the moment into passion,” DiPisa said. “I remember smiling when I read it because I knew what I was doing, and I was so proud of myself to actually say my words without being super scared like I always was at the slams.”
DiPisa said her poem was inspired by pop artist Olivia Rodrigo’s album “Sour,” which was released on May 21.
“I’d been going through my own teenage wormhole of never-ending AP homework, changing friendships, guilt and other personal stuff. That just kind of culminated into the poem,” DiPisa said.
She described the slam, which ran for about an hour, as “short and sweet.”
“I’m glad we just kept going poem after poem because sometimes these programs can become very long,” DiPisa said. “I think [supervisor Ms. Klein and English teacher Ms. Pastor] did a great job of keeping it [moving] in a timely manner.”
Sophomore Samantha May came in third place for her poem “MELATONIN MURDERER.” Senior Bryan Cosman and junior Daniel Imbornoni both received honorable mention awards for their poems “His Love” and “Nowhere to Go but Home.”
The poetry slam was judged by English teachers Mr. Belmont, Ms. Burns and Mrs. Falco.
While Burns and Falco have judged poetry slams in the past, Belmont was a new addition to the judging panel.
“The performances were deeply moving. It was a trying year for most of us, and I think the poets skillfully channeled their feelings into their writings. Although the slam was conducted over Zoom, it still felt extremely personal and intimate,” Belmont said.
He said he enjoyed his first experience judging a poetry slam.
“Being able to celebrate poets that went above and beyond is also rewarding,” Belmont said. “Being present at the slam itself, and having the privilege of listening to students share their passion with the audience is always a pleasure.”
Belmont said selecting the winning poems was difficult because the poets displayed a variety of strengths. He said what separates an award-winning presentation from the rest is that it is memorable.
“Overall, we look[ed] at the poem itself along with the performance. The words that are spoken are important, but the manner in which they are expressed—hopefully with passion and confidence—really sets an outstanding performance apart,” said Belmont.
Below, you can find the text of Faiza Chowdhury’s “Gaia,” which earned a first place award.
SCREENSHOTS BY CASEY CIRNE AND EMILY GABRIEL