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Poetry Slam brings area teens center stage

Multi-district  — The eighth annual Teen Poetry Slam invited young writers to perform their poems live and uncensored on April 25, hosted by Kent District Library in partnership with Write Michigan.  

Three local poets served as judges for more than 20 student performers from Kent County middle and high schools, including Byron Center, Caledonia, Comstock Park, East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kelloggsville, Kenowa Hills, Kentwood, Lowell, Northview and Rockford school districts. 

Crossroads Alternative High School junior Alexandra ‘Big Dog’ Carillo-Gomez reads her poem ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ at the eighth annual Teen Poetry Slam

Students read their original poems about families, faith, perfectionism and failure, getting glasses and a new perspective on life, stars and space, favorite seasons and social justice issues. 

At the end of the slam, the judges recognized the top 10 winners of the written contest and named the top 10 slam poets to receive a $50 Meijer gift card. 

Junior Alexandra ‘Big Dog’ Carillo-Gomez from Crossroads Alternative High School read her poem, “Daddy’s Little Girl” and credited English teacher Mike Ketelaar for encouraging her and her classmates to write poetry about their lives and experiences. 

“I write about what I feel, and people can relate to it,” Alexandra said. “When all eyes are on me and people are clapping and tears come out of their eyes, it’s the best feeling.” 

KDL communications specialist Katie Zuidema said they received more than 140 entries this year.

“We were so impressed by the level of talent on display,” she said. “To all our teen poets: it takes courage to share your art with strangers, and we are honored by your participation.” 

Read more about our sponsor: 
Teen events at the library
KDL Kelloggsville branch marks fifth anniversary

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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