Poetry Club Members Enter Slam Poetry Competitions


Kechi Mbah

Kechi Mbah performs one of her poems at a local Poetry Slam.

“When people call me quiet or shy I get annoyed/Not because what they’re saying is wrong,/But because what they are saying is right.”

This excerpt is from “Tongue”, a poem written by Kechi Mbah. In her poem, she writes about overcoming her shyness and breaking out of her shell. She found inspiration in spoken word poetry, and that inspiration founded Carnegie’s Poetry Club. Now, she has brought students together through their love of writing.

“Watching the videos, I wanted to learn more about poetry. And I got more interested in the idea of making the Poetry Club at the school and bringing people together,” says Kechi.

Earlier in the year, two members of the Poetry Club, Naomi Canny and Ishita Ahuja, won gold keys in a national poetry competition. This is just one of the competitions that the Poetry Club are interested in. They also enter slam poetry competitions. Right now, they are working on poems to send in to apply for The Houston Meta-Four Team, who will go on to represent Houston in national competitions.   However, while the Poetry Club was started in order to bring people together, they are still individuals that enter these competitions. 

“Its competition is  individuals but I learned about the competition and I told the people in my club about it. So now they’re people within the club, not just me, that are also signing up for competition,” Kechi informed Upstream

The Club meets every Wednesday in Ms. Harris’s room, where they watch a video of a slam poet and discuss how it was impactful and how they can apply it to their own writing. It is beneficial to developing young writers, and it can also provide a getaway from the everyday stress of a student’s life. They work to develop their writing and speaking skills. 

“Spoken word is basically where you’re able to make a poem about something that affects you or just anything in general and act in out so people can use it as an outlet to release their emotions,” said Kechi.

This poetry is different from the poetry being read and written in their classes right now. Spoken word poetry is not on the curriculum, so the students are learning as they go. The poetry students work on in class is all written; they focus on written poetry with set parameters, rhyme and reason. Spoken word is all about diction; it’s not about how you write the words, it’s about how the poet chooses to convey them to the audience, right there in the moment. 

“I’m in 10th grade now/And I’m still not loud or outgoing/But when I walk into a room /I no longer cower and face the ground/I stand up straight and I let my eyes meet the eyes of others/Because I know /No one can ever or will ever/Grab ahold of this tongue again.” – Kechi Mbah