Katie MacBride, the 's young adult librarian, vividly remember her not-so-long-ago high school days.
So when she began organizing the library’s first-ever , she did so with some trepidation about whether there were enough local young poets – and a wider audience that would come out and support them – to justify a major event at the library.
MacBride said her fears were allayed, loudly, in the form of more than 175 people filling the library's main reading room Friday evening to cheer, laugh and swoon over 14 young poets who poured their hearts out with original poems.
“I was amazed that we were able to get so many poets,” MacBride said. “When I was in high school, I never would have been brave enough to read something I had written to an audience, much less perform it the way poets have to in slam. It was sort of incredible considering how nervous I was about anyone signing up. “
A dozen of the 14 participants were from , including winner Daron Austin and runner-up Chase Hansen. The competition was judged Marin County’s first poet laureate Albert Flynn DeSilver, along with poetry teacher Terri Glass and science fiction writer Ayize Jama-Everett, who gave each poem an individual score between one and ten – frequently garnering cheers or boos from the raucous crowd.
In addition to Austin and Hansen, the participants included Tam students Mayana Bonaparte, Ania Boryslawska, Billy Butler, Connie Chong, Will Daly, Chelsey Meyer, Casey O'Brien, Tyler Parkerson, Meg Weisselberg and Hannah Yerington, along with Redwood High students Emmanuel Klev Xavier Blanchard-Kabat and Rayna Saro.
MacBride said that while the poets were the main attraction, it was the crowd that made the night possible.
“I had high expectations of the kids, but I wasn’t necessarily sure how the audience would react,” she said. “It was so exciting to see how engaged and supportive the audience was—and the poets even exceeded my high expectations.”