ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Student judges Felicia Reppucci and Connor Gagne raise scores during the poetry slam.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
SAUGUS — A piece about a girl who lost her father to his heroin addiction took first place in the seventh grade age category of Belmonte Middle School’s poetry slam Wednesday night.
Performed by Aiva Brusgulis, the poem’s persona talks about her father’s demons and how they eventually became her own.
“How could you be so blind to not see that I needed you here with me?”
Brusgulis ended the night with a score of 29.9 out of 30.
Sixth grader Yessenia Guevara, with 30 points, and eighth grader Olivia Tamanga, with 29.7 points, also took first place.
A poetry slam is a competition during which artists read or recite an original piece of work — either alone or in teams — before an audience, according to Poets.org. The work is judged on both the manner and enthusiasm of its performance and the content or style. A panel of two teachers and three students judged the work.
The competition structure stems from poet and construction worker Marc Smith, who performed at a Chicago jazz club in 1986.
There were two dozen students going head to head and English Language Arts teacher Terrie Bater said this year’s competition is the first to be held school-wide.
“Last year, I coordinated a smaller version, which was held for just students on one of the seventh grade teams,” Bater said. “The students really enjoyed creating poetry and presenting it in the slam format so this year, the event was opened up to the entire school.”
Lauren Robinson earned an honorable mention for her poem about Syrian refugees; also Ruby Mower for her poem “The Absence of You,” which judges said had the most powerful imagery; and Brennan Donahue for having the bravery to share his poem about the aftermath of suicide.
Giorgia Fiore recited her poem “Dancing with the Ribbon,” which is about her grandmother and two uncles’ battle with cancer.
“It gets tied around you and sometimes it doesn’t unravel,” she said.
Prizes were donated by Banana Splits and Barnes and Noble and awarded to the top poet in each grade.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte