Jam Kids — Prose from Pueblo’s East Side

Quick, think of the name of a poet you like!  “Umm… umm…”  I can feel you squirm trying to think of somebody that isn’t Edgar Allen Poe or Robert Frost; they are just too common.  Don’t get me wrong, these guys are great!  But, don’t you think it’s time you expanded your horizons?  I do.  Wait… What?!  Did I just hear you say you don’t like poetry?  Nonsense!  I know you like music; music is just poetry with a beat.  

Aren’t convinced on  how about I introduce you to what Pueblo’s East High School is doing. 

The Def Poetry Jam is held annually at Pueblo’s East High School. It was started by Mr. Joe Romero, an English teacher, and is going five years strong.  Jamming poetry is an event with spoken word poetry, meaning original poems will be performed by the poet.  The poets behind this celebration are none other than the students of East’s English Honors 10 class.  For weeks these students have been preparing their works, and with Mr. Romero’s help, they are growing.  In a sense, you could say they are discovering themselves.  Being presented with this opportunity is wonderful for these students.  They are being given the chance to let the world know what matters to them.

Let me reel you in a bit, honey.   I know this might not be your cup of tea, but let me tell you a little more before you run out on me.  Okay?  Good. 

What’s so great about poetry? 

Pueblo's East High students Marizza Mitchell and Ashly Smith | PULP
Pueblo’s East High students Marizza Mitchell and Ashly Smith | PULP

“The beauty of poetry is that it’s yourself.” said student and Poetry Jam participant, Marizza Mitchell. Let it sink in.  Heavy, right?   

Marizza feels poetry is an excellent tool when it comes to self-expression because it allows you to share your struggles and life experiences with others.  Ashley Smith, another 10th grader, echoed the sentiments of self-expression, “it can be calming and therapeutic to put your emotions on paper.”  

The students feel when you poetry is done right they can reach and relate with somebody else on a deeper level.  

When I asked another student, Desmond Clevinger, how he felt poetry relates to real life, he simply told me “Poetry is life.”  Desmond is passionate about poetry, claiming it is deep and he uses is a great escape, “I absolutely love it.”

Even as apprentices learning the craft of prose, one sentiment seemed to reverberate in each of the students. They feel one of the reasons poetry is so meaningful is because it allows you to connect with people.  Through this connection, as young persons they are able to share their stories and experiences on a more profound level.  

As another student, Carisa Medina told me, “writing poetry forces you to reflect on what you know, and through this you are able to communicate through different perspectives.” 

The look on your face is telling me you’re bored by this.  Who can blame you?  After all, poetry is just a lame attempt at rhyming words and trying to talk about our feelings, right?  You know, “Roses are red, violets are blue.  This one is overused, and it stinks like poo.”  I know what you mean.  Just imagine how much terrible poetry you and I have read in my search for “the good stuff.”  But, the search is well worth it.  When it’s done well, poetry is raw power expressed by the joys of language.  You just haven’t found the right style, darlin’, and I’m here to help you out. 

Carisa Medina and Desmond Clevenger | PULP
Carisa Medina and Desmond Clevenger | PULP

Maybe the Jam Kids at East School aren’t quite your Ralph Waldo’s, your Emily D’s or the great double W’s but then that’s not the point.  I don’t want another Walt Whitman, in time I hope to fill my need of poetry to need another Desmond, another the double Z Marizza, another Medina, another original Ashly. Maybe it’s the  beginning of a great litetary cuture all started in Pueblo’s Eastside. Look interested now? I am.

Def Poetry Jam will be held at Pueblo’s East High School, April 18th and 19th at 6:30p.m with $2 for admission. All ticket sales contribute to a scholarship for a East High senior.

Pictured above: Marizza Mitchell (black shirt), Ashly Smith (grey t-shirt w/ flowers), Carisa Medina (White with yellow long sleeve shirt), and Desmond Clevenger.

by Vera Coleman

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