Poetry with Pizzazz: Poempalooza

Alaina Taylor (12), Opinion Editor

“I believe that art of any kind can be pivotal in a person coming to understand who they are…it’s big, it has an impact that’s almost impossible to measure, when kids are passionate,” said Nancy Nott, advisor of the Peace Jam club.

  Poetry has played a large role in Nott’s life starting from a very young age. “I started writing [and reading] poetry when I was really young. My mom had poetry books in the house… even though I didn’t understand it, there was something that drew me in,” said Nott. She continues to write poetry to this day, both as an English and Creative Writing teacher, which contributes to the success of the creative writing program. “Poetry has been one of the most influential aspects of my life, including my leisure time and my profession,” she states. Nott’s enthusiasm has, in turn, encouraged students to show interest in written work.

  Poempalooza was born at Portage Northern in 2012, when several of Nott’s students, after taking her creative writing class and witnessing her obvious talent and passion, expressed interest in expanding their audience to the rest of their peers in the school. “It was 100% student originated,” said Nott. The event has taken place three times since its creation and is often very well attended. “[At the first poempalooza] we had about 100 people in the audience, and at each one there’s been about 50 to 100 people,” said Nott. “I don’t care if there’s 5 people there or 500 people there,” she continues, “as long as there are people there sharing their love for literature.”

  Peace Jam will sponsor Poempalooza, providing snacks (yay!) and raising money on a donation basis for Loaves and Fishes (yay! x2). It will take place in the auditorium on Thursday, December 10th, from 3:00-4:00. Everyone is welcome to sign up to participate, whether students would like to read their own original poems, read other students’ poems for them, or simply share a work of famous poetry that they find especially moving. The goal of this event is to simply spend time amongst peers, celebrate poetry, and raise money for a worthy cause.



Addressing any concerns relating to Poempalooza

  1. It’s scary.

That may be true for some, but it doesn’t have to be. If a student wishes to have their piece presented for their peers but isn’t necessarily thrilled about public speaking, there are Peace Jam emcees who sign up specifically to read other people’s work aloud. Problem solved.

2. What if I change my mind?

If you sign up to present and decide at the last moment that it is too personal or that you would rather not share your art, it’s okay to withdraw. No one will force you to do it, and no one will judge you for changing your mind. It’s a very supportive environment.

Problem solved.


3. People might judge me on something that’s really personal.

The attendance of Poempalooza may be high, but that’s because there is a huge amount of people within the school who support the arts and participate in them themselves. Nott stated that the only people who show up are going to be the audience members who clap and cheer and celebrate every piece. It is not by any means a hostile or judgemental environment.

Problem solved.