With poetry taking a front-row seat, the focus on audience entertainment and the ability to captivate the reader’s and listener’s attention with carefully orchestrated wordplay became an important skill for students as they brought the genre to life. Recently, classes from Primary 2 through to Primary 6 set forth on a mission to delve into these deeper competencies and accordingly, the SIS Basel Poetry Slam 2023 was introduced as a fun and unique way to highlight our students’ effort and talent.
After poetry-focused workshops in October 2022, teachers expanded their new term plans and directed their efforts towards student achievement. Different year groups embraced different traditions and styles as the students put their pens to paper using language, structure and their own unique ideas to capture their audience’s imagination and elicit the desired response.
During a four-week intensive poetry workshop held during writing lessons in the second semester, students explored the creative possibilities while their teachers facilitated the learning, providing useful feedback and suggestions that encouraged the pupils to communicate their themes. Through careful use of figurative language, poetic features and writing styles, the students began to transform language into sonnets, ballads, limericks and haiku. The students’ excitement became palpable as each class was transformed into a veritable stage where students became more comfortable with the rhythm, repetition and rhyme of their work.
The foundation of respectful listening became a topic in classes as students learned to appreciate everyone’s different style and delivery. Metaphors and imagery flew from the pages while their creators took careful aim at their intended audience. Who ever dreamed that learning could be so fun?
The scene was set in the large gym hall and the energy was palpable. With all of primary in attendance, the moment had finally arrived. The finalists were going head to head in the greatest poetry run-off in the school’s history. The youngest contestants went first and delivered terrific performances which were met with thunderous applause. The older students followed and their practice paid off as they recited their work and acted out their themes.
In the end, there could only be two winners: one in German and one in English. The competition was stiff and the judges had a difficult time declaring the top poets in primary. All the students were amazing both with their words and through their delivery, but two shined through with the most impassioned and powerful tributes. Liv won the German award with “Das alte Rom”. Her special twist on Roman gods was something to behold; she not only acted out the words with resonance and passion, but dressed the part, too. For English, Lea took top honors with an impassioned environmental message titled “Imagine a World”. One could have heard a pin drop (or maybe a tear or two) as she painted the picture of environmental justice with only her voice and the power of language.
The great poet Robert Frost once so eloquently said, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words”. The SIS Basel Poetry Slam resonated across the curriculum and became a celebration of words and the students that defined them.
Andrew Wulfers, Principal