Students open hearts, minds through poetry at Sermon Slam 2019

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Students attending Sermon Slam 2019 were treated to emotional poems and artwork presented by nine different speakers. Nick Albicocco/Mitzpeh.

By Nick Albicocco
For Mitzpeh
@Mitzpeh

The Stamp Student Union’s grand ballroom lounge wasn’t just a room full of poetry and snapping Monday night but also a room full of bravery, identity and emotion as students shared their renditions of poetry and artwork during Sermon Slam 2019.

The Sermon Slam is an annual event in which students share a poem or artwork in front of fellow students to showcase their experiences. Over the duration of the 90 minute event this year, nine students presented to an audience of a few dozen people.

The night kicked off with the event’s two emcee’s, sophomore philosophy major Aryeh Roberts and junior neurobiology major Sharon Rosenblum, thanking their sponsors Maryland Hillel and the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. They introduced themselves through a transition-filled poem.

Then, Anat Berday-Sacks, who organized the event by herself, shared some background information about studying abroad in Tunisia last semester before launching into a poem about her experience there.

After she shared her poem, the rest of the night featured highly personal poems with emotional experiences. With each speaker, the room echoed with the sound of snaps. Snapping, of course, is the customary form of applause during a poetry slam.

However, before each speaker would read their poem aloud, they were peppered with a random question from either Roberts or Rosenblum in an attempt to lighten the mood.

The final presenter of the night shared her own picture book about the viewpoint of Sammy, a metaphorical spider who represented the emotions of the speaker. In the poem, the spider spun webs at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh during the time of the tragic mass shooting. The speaker had a personal connection with the synagogue as her mother had been the principal there until last August.

The night turned out to be a very powerful event, Roberts said.

”It was a nice array of themes with poems full of feelings towards Judaism, feelings and past experiences,” he said.

“To say it was moving, I think, [would be] an understatement,” added Rosenblum.

Berday-Sacks, who worked on advertising the event, running a workshop for participants and organizing a dress rehearsal, said, “Many of the participants are first-time slammers, and I was impressed with their vulnerability and bravery.” The senior government and politics major added, “The event was a chance to hear important, personal stories that wouldn’t otherwise be shared.”

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