A Poet In Us All

Jefferson Poets Hosts First Poetry Slam Contest


Grace Mak

President and founder of Jefferson Poets, senior Olivia Johann, looks out from behind the podium into the crowd of students waiting in anticipation for the first 2018 Poetry Slam Contest to begin.

Irina Lee and Grace Mak

A hush fell over the crowd of poetry enthusiasts as senior Olivia Johann strided towards the center of the cafeteria. Taking a deep breath, Johann gave a bright smile and announced, “Welcome to the first 2018 Jefferson Poetry Slam Contest hosted by Jefferson Poets.”

Only in its first year as a fledgeling club, the contest proved to be a significant milestone not only for Jefferson Poets, but for poetry as a whole in the Jefferson community. As an avid lover of poetry, Johann was taken aback when she discovered that there was no Jefferson poetry club that met during eighth period.

“Last year, I was scrolling through ion, eighth period, and I was like, ‘It’d [be nice] to go to a poetry club,’ and there was no poetry club, so I was like, ‘Okay this is a problem,’ and then I made one,” Johann said. “I founded this club this year, it’s a new club, and I think to date it is the only poetry club at TJ.”

Though most clubs strive to achieve recognition, Johann feels that Jefferson Poets goes beyond by creating a haven for all poetry hopefuls in the school.

“The point of the club is just to foster a poetry community at TJ,” Johann said. “Our club doesn’t have a specific goal, it has more [sic] like a purpose to support poetry poetry at TJ.”

Jefferson Poets also participated in the annual Poetry Out Loud Contest by providing MCs, however, Johann hopes to bring a more personal side of her love for poetry to others.

“The Poetry Slam was what I wanted to do as President, and it was this goal that I did for the year,” Johann said. “I wanted to introduce slam poetry to TJ because not many people know [about] it,” Johann said. “Slam Poetry is [where] you present your original poetry and usually it encroaches on economic, socio-political barriers. You can express your opinion through poetry, and I think a lot of kids can do that at TJ, but there isn’t any activity that lets these kids express their ideas and opinions.”

Ultimately, Johann feels that both Jefferson Poets and the Poetry Slam Contest allowed her to connect back to her original love for the art. After discovering slam poetry in middle school, she had found an outlet to express her thoughts through a unique medium. Creating Jefferson Poets allows her to continue her passion for poetry and bring poetry slam to other students at Jefferson.

“I’ve always liked poetry because the form and the style connected more with me than your usual short story. And then, in middle school, I started writing a bit more, and my middle school teacher introduced me to slam poetry,” Johann said. “I liked doing that, I kept writing poetry, kept looking up stuff about poetry slam and then this year, tried to introduce it to other kids.”

Grace Mak
Contestants of the 2018 Jefferson Poetry Slam Contest pose with big smiles as they finish the last round of the competition during Friday A Block on May 4.