Sonya Renee Taylor, international artist and activist, joins students and faculty at Uptown

Anna Jones

On Nov. 2, Uptown held one of its well-known Poetry Slams to show off the work of talented University students, faculty and guest artists.

“A Poetry Slam is a competition between anyone who wants to share a poem they wrote or read … poems are about anything that is on the poet’s mind,” Emilie Ratajczak ’15, assistant manager of Uptown, said.

“The poems are judged on a ten point scale by audience members and a winner is determined,” Steph Wyld ’14, manager of Uptown said.

The Stadler Center for Poetry has hosted six Poetry Slams, led by Jamaal May, a Stadler Fellow, at Uptown in the past year and a half. Each has been well attended. There are several different sections during a poetry slam.

“Each Slam breaks the night up into an Open Mic, Featured Poet and a One-Round Slam that artists sign up for at the beginning of the night with audience judges,” Wyld said.

The Poetry Slams at Uptown are campus-wide events, but students from other schools, such as Susquehanna University, are also invited.

At this particular slam, Sonya Renee Taylor, the founder and current CEO of The Body Is Not An Apology, a movement focused on self-acceptance and body empowerment, was the featured guest. Taylor is herself a poet, so she performed her powerful work along with University and Susquehanna University students.

“My favorite part of the Poetry Slam is being surrounded by such passionate poets,” Ratajczak said.

She also encourages University students to head out to a slam if they get a chance.

“These events are an extremely fun way to break from the usual night scene at Bucknell,” Ratajczak said. “In addition, you get to meet so many great new people at these events at Uptown.”

“My favorite part is seeing performers put their whole heart and soul into a piece and connect to the audience through those common experiences by sharing something so personal,” Wyld said. “Past performers have surprised me with talent I couldn’t have imagined they possess and it’s great to hear them express their work.”

Wyld also recommends that students check out the Poetry Slams.

“They are something that you can’t experience every day. They really are special and will open your eyes to a whole other world of self-expression,” Wyld said. “There is a very welcoming and supportive crowd, so it is a great place for anyone to share their poetry without fear of criticism and for audience members to enjoy a fantastic performance.”

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