Make voices heard at poetry slam

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Organizing the poetry slam Voices for Change, organizers Olivia Maday and Madeline Maday have faced some hard choices.

The sisters, both students at Clarkston High School, received about 60 poetry submissions from classmates, which they and committee members had to narrow down to 31.

"It was such a hard decision. They are so good, so personal," said Madeline, a senior at the high school. "Positive or negative, they highlight things in society."

"They're very moving," said Olivia, 10th grader.

They selected poems from a variety of ages, grades, and topics including self confidence, divorce, and racial inequality for the event, this Friday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m., at Clarkston High School performing arts center. It also has an international purpose, Olivia said.

"My sister and I decided to make this a charity event in which all the proceeds will go toward the Afghan Women's Writing Project," she said. "This event is unique in the sense that students from all three of the secondary schools in the district will be participating and expressing their opinions and creativity through slam poetry."

Slam poetry is created to be spoken aloud, with word emphasis, breaks and pauses.

"There's a certain rhythm to it, how the words flow," Olivia said.

"It's about delivery rather than what's on paper," Madeline said. "It carries a strong message. Inspiration comes when you least expect it – at 4 a.m., written on the back of a receipt. It's very cool, very personal."

This is the first year for the project, which was developed as a creative and service project for Madeline's International Baccalaureate program, but it's become something more, she said.

"We're lucky to have the opportunity to share our voice and story," she said. "We want to give back to help those who don't get that opportunity."

"I really like the message it conveys," Olivia said. "We wanted to do something for a charity helping women in a third world county," Olivia said.

They've been working on it since summer, with assistance from Ryan Eisele, language arts teacher who organizes a poetry slam at the high school every year.

"He showed us the ropes," Madeline said.

Olivia made a video explaining the idea to students in grades 6-12 with assistance from Independence Television at CHS, using an iMac computer.

"Olivia is very talented with technology," said Madeline, who prepared a lesson plan for younger grades, highlighting similarities and differences of written and slam poetry.

Their goal is to have lots of participation from the community at the event.

"A big audience to show kids their voices are heard and accepted," Olivia said. "It's very cool, to see them use their voices to express themselves."

"It's a positive way to get the community together," Madeline said. "If even one audience member says a poem spoke to me, if it impacts at least one, that would be huge for us."

Madeline hopes the poetry slam continues as an annual event after she graduates, a hope her sister shares.

"I really want to continue it," Olivia said. "If people are interested in it, I'd like it to continue for years to come."

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