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Grizzlies host Third Annual Poetry Slam Finale

The rapidity with which they were fired and the sincerity behind their utterance, provoked the snapping of fingers, the nodding of heads and the rhythmic patting of feet. They were, “The Words Spoken.” The Memphis Grizzlies held their Third Annual Poetry Slam Finale, presented by Southwest Tennessee Community College, on Sunday, Dec. 9 at Southwest’s Macon Cove Campus. View photos.

The finale featured 18 winning students from individual poetry and art slams from Memphis area high schools. Under the theme “Be Great,” poets had two minutes to recite verses of original poetry with the only rules being to step up to the microphone and give your best performance while being judged on performance, interpretation and content.

With a spoken word piece called “Fairy Dust,” Brayana Rodgers, a senior from  Kirby High School,  delivered in all of those categories to win the Third Annual Poetry Slam Finale, a two-year, full tuition scholarship to Southwest Tennessee Community College and an all-expense paid trip to New York City during her spring break.

“It was extremely exciting,” said Rodgers. “My nerves were a little shot at first, but the whole experience was tremendous.”

Rodgers, who defines being great as being able to break barriers, wrote in “Fairy Dust” the importance of being remembered not just today or tomorrow, but someone who is continuously remembered years and centuries from now.

“The meaning behind my poem is all about staying with the path and sticking to the path that you are given,” said Rodgers.  “We are all completely blessed with so many gifts, so if we use our gifts and go in the path that God has blessed us with then so many great things can come from us.”

J’Taime Weaver, a junior at White Station High School, came in second winning a laptop, and Everett Spears, a junior at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, won third wining an iPod and iTunes gift card. 

In addition to the poetry contest, students submitted original works of art for the finale. Gali Du, a student at White Station, won first place to also win a two-year, full tuition scholarship to Southwest Tennessee Community College and an all-expense paid trip to New York City during his spring break.

As a comprehensive, multicultural, public, open-access college, Southwest Tennessee Community College has now been presenting sponsor of the Grizzlies Poetry Slam for two years and plans to continue to sponsor the event years to come to give recognition to the literary arts and local poets.

“This is a great outlet for young people because they don’t have a format that they are able to express themselves, and I think the Poetry Slam is a great outlet for them,” said Vanessa Dowdy, Director of Recruitment for Southwest Community College. “When the Grizzlies came to us and asked if we would like to co-sponsor, we loved coming on board again. We look forward to this event because we want children to go to college. We are all about education.”

All contestants will be recognized for their accomplishments at halftime of Monday’s Grizzlies game against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.