Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Slam Poetry: Asking Authors to Get it Right

Below we'll show two clips of Rachel Rostad who, from her Facebook page, "is a sophomore at Macalester College, studying English, Anthropology, and Human Rights and Humanitarianism. She began slamming during her first year of college, and made the nationally ranked Macalester poetry slam team in 2012, when she was seventeen years old. That year, the team took 2nd place at college nationals. Now, a year and a half later, she is a two-time champion of the St. Paul Soapboxing Last Chance Slam and has performed her poetry across the nation".

The first clip is entitled: To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang.

The second clip is a response from Rachel to the reactions the first clip incited.

How do these two clips make you feel?


  1. At first, I thought her poem went overboard -- but upon rewatching it, I grew to enjoy it more and more. Good art is often extreme and she definitely makes several good points. And her response was lovely and intelligent and insightful -- it sparked a lot of controversy, but it's good to get people thinking...

  2. I thought Rachel's poetry slam video was very thought provoking. She made some excellent points. However, I also was glad to hear her explanation and how she learned of the possibility of marginalizing her audience. As she commented, further dialogues are needed.

  3. I keep coming back here, hoping someone has commented. I guess I will be first.

    The first video made me cry. I loved and still love the Harry Potter books. I was in my early 20s when they came out and my sister was in her tweens. She read them and loved them and dressed up as Cho Chang. We delighted in the character together and I was grateful that here was one more role model she could have that I hadn't (Buffy was another).

    When Cho became disappointing (imagine if Buffy turned simpering), my sister and I didn't discuss it. We just didn't talk about Cho any more. By the time Harry fell for the (white) girl-next-door, we had buried the disappointment enough to laugh at Cho's lameness. We still read every Harry Potter book and watched every movie.

    So tears fell as I watched Rachel Rostad express the disappointment (and grief) evidently inside me, still. I thank her for voicing it.

    All this said, I also write. And I only hope to one day write something that resonates as broadly and deeply as JK Rowling's Harry Potter series. I don't see my disappointment as Rowling's fault. How could my eyes be hers?

    What it is, is evidence of the power of stories to touch (and crush) us. Stories do live beyond their creators. It's an awesome power.

    (What it is too, is a reminder for me to thank you all here for working to increase the diversity of voices in children's lit. Thank you)