When my school project is making me happy

Good evening TALONted individuals. It’s been a while, but I have the next update for you, on my last in-depth mentor meeting. Going into this project, I was unsure of the challenges I would face/overcome, how stressful the burden would be, or whether I would enjoy the project at all. After only two meetings with my mentor, I can tell that in-depth is going to be a great success for me. My mentor and I have an ideal relationship, with plenty of similarities between us. Because of her experience with this same project, it is easy for her to identify and understand the troubles I am having, or areas in which I am excelling at.

I had two poems prepared for our meeting on Wednesday. One of these, was my first attempt at a humorous poem, which I am not too proud of. This week, I am working on fine-tuning the writing of this poem, so that it could maybe be posted for you next week? It depends how this all plays out. The other poem which I shared with Emma, was extremely personal, and a hard topic for me to talk about. This poem was a result of her exercise for me last week, which was to write a raw poem without figurative language covering up the true meaning. This poem is the first of mine, which taught me more about myself, than it could ever teach an audience. This being said, I am not comfortable sharing it with an audience, so I suppose it isn’t a huge deal. I was in tears by the end of sharing the poem with Emma, and she totally knew where I was coming from. She has obviously written poems that have had sensitive topics before. She is also with me, that while this project is about learning and presenting SLAM poetry, its also about self-discovery and acceptance. So I did learn a lot in this past two weeks, but I guess you don’t get to visually see it just yet.

Emma helped me edit both of my poems, as well as finished our last meetings lesson on the 4 pillars of SLAM poetry. This weeks pillars were Development (of the poem) and Diction (referring to language, rhythm and flow). During development, we talked briefly about the dramatic structure which Emma follows religiously, and says I will learn to do so. “Thanks to Freytag for that little gem” (Fields). Essentially, I need to make sure that every point in my poem has a different level of intensity, or place on the plot line. I also learnt about some more complex figurative language, since I’ve only ever really been taught about the basics, such as metaphors and rhymes.

Some figurative language tools that we talked about were,

synecdoche: using a part of something to refer to the whole ex. all hands on deck

metonymy: the exact opposite of synecdoche ex. the track instead of horse racing, or the movie industry instead of Hollywood

dissonance: unpleasant or “off” language

cacophony: harsh language

euphony: pleasant language

assonance: repeated vowel sound anywhere in a word

consonance: repeated consonant sound anywhere in a word

Every one of these can be used in SLAM poetry to add a certain effect, vibe, or feel to the audience.

During our meeting I took almost two pages of notes, so that I could read through them later and remember our exact conversation. Emma also gives me mini assignment like things, which she says are just good exercises, and I, by no means have to do them. However I have completed both of them so far, because they are fun, and helpful. This weeks assignment is to memorize a segment of rap, and play around with the rhymes to see how it feels. By the way, rap is a form of SLAM poetry (maybe SLAM is a little cool now)! Each of these mini assignments or exercises tell Emma that I am paying attention and listening to her, but also builds my SLAMming skills.

Well, I better go. I’m in the middle of writing my next poem :)

-Mackenzie

“Care about what you write, write about what you care about.” -Emma Fields

Hello TALONted folks! I know its a week late, but I finally had my first meeting with my in-depth mentor, Emma Fields, and can post about it!

I’d just like to start by telling you how much I respect Emma. She started out in the same position I am currently in, and is now an AMAZING poet, being on the team which won the Hullabaloo championships last year. We talked for over an hour, but could have discussed our passion for much longer!

She, like me, was in TALONS and did her in-depth project on SLAM poetry in grade nine. She had a mentor, by the name of Jacob, who she is still close with, and speaks to regularly. He gave her lots of tips, pointers, and notes; which she passed down to me.  Since then, she has performed at multiple events, including Hullabaloo and Café deux Soleil youth slams. She talked a lot about how nerve-wracking it is to go up and perform at slam events, even after years of experience. Certain poems are easier to perform because of the topics. Other poems, no matter how many metaphors you use to conceal the true meaning, are dear to your heart (as a poet), and extremely difficult to let the audience in on those moments. She said, that at a certain point, usually onstage; you have to let go of those fears, and just say, “I’m gonna do this”. Obviously this isn’t easy to do, but she said it helps to think about what each performance will do, “To the development of [your] craft” (Fields).

Emma taught me about the 4 pillars of poetry which include: Topic, Development, Diction, and Delivery. Essentially, you can’t work on the development of your poem, until your topic is solid; this is the same for each pillar. Jacob taught her these same fundamentals three years ago. One major thing about slam, that Emma told me, was that not every poem must be performed. The basic definition of slam, is a poem created for the sole reason of being performed. I just assumed that meant that every slam I wrote, had to be presented to an audience. She claims it can even be more therapeutic to write, and never show a soul what is on your paper. That way, you don’t worry about revealing so many details about yourself, to a group of people you don’t know. While this may seem minor, it has completely altered my view on this art.

Because Emma was in a very similar situation, to what I am in now, it is easy to relate to her struggles, as well as successes. While not every mentor/mentee relationship will be like this, as a mentor, I think its helpful to look for similarities in the people, so that you have commonalities to discuss. Emma made it easy for me to intervene, and state questions, ideas, or even to disagree with what she had said. Although, there wasn’t much that I disagreed with, it was more of me just clarifying details. Emma was personable, and humble, throughout our entire conversation. Perhaps I’m bias, but I think I might have the best mentor.

Until next time,

Mackenzie