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How to Put the Slam in Pomona Poetry

Since his first poetry slam a year ago, Frank Sanchez ’13 has been leading a crusade to bring the high-octane competitions to Pomona. Audience members judge the poet-performers, so connecting with the crowd is key, says Sanchez, who takes us on his path to becoming a poetry promoter.

 1)   DISCOVER spoken word poetry in eighth grade while listening to the radio. Connect to poet Beau Sia’s humor and conversational style. Put aside poetry (temporarily) for music. Play piano, drums, guitar, and write punk and pop songs. Leave Austin for Pomona and a major in gender and women’s studies. Perform on campus in band called Awarewolves.

 2)  CHECK OUT the performances at a café in L.A.’s Little Tokyo. Embrace poet Edren Sumagaysay’s challenge to the audience to write every day. Pound out your very first poem that night. Know you’ve found your voice.

 3)  TAKE CLASSES in creative writing and poetry. Focus on spoken word and slam poetry. Write about family, home and childhood. Attend first slam poetry contest in Austin during winter break. Get plucked from audience as a judge. Return the following week as a performer. Realize you’re hooked.

4)  LAUNCH a campaign to bring slam poetry to Claremont. Enlist novice poets from Pomona to compete in national college contest. Take some solace that you don’t finish dead last. Decide your senior thesis is going to be about slam poetry and the ways it engages people. Teach a poetry class to high school students over the summer.

5)   COME FULL CIRCLE. Attend a book signing by Beau Sia. Win your first poetry slam back home in Austin on break. Organize writing workshops, open mics and performances by slam poets. Bring together poets, dancers, and other artists from across campus for your big spring event. Recruit a team to compete at the 2013 nationals. Get ready to graduate. Plan to keep on slamming.