Mount Hebron Hosts First Poetry Slam
Posted on 04/25/2016

Participants post of the steps of Mount hebron.

Mount Hebron Middle School held its first Poetry Slam, "Every Story Matters," on April 19, 2016. Fifty-eight students took the stage to recite their works in front of three judges.

Leading up to the event each house attended an assembly led by Rich Villar, Mount Hebron’s Poet-in-Residence. Villar has introduced the tradition and art of spoken word poetry to students, working with them, along with teachers, to draft and refine their poems for consideration in the first Poetry Slam.

"We are excited about this opportunity for students to learn that poetry can be an effective vehicle to share what is on their minds and in their hearts," said Principal Jill Sack.

Villar, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a freelance writer and editor and is the author of the poetry collection Comprehending Forever (Willow Books / Aquarius Press, 2014). He has been quoted on Latino literature and culture by both the New York Times and the Daily News, and his poetry and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Renaissance Noire, Hanging Loose, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Amistad, Latino Poetry Review, and the acclaimed chapbook series Achiote Seeds.

Judging the event were Montclair residents Joanne LaMarca Mathisen, Emmy-award winning senior producer of NBC News’ Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb; Roger Sedarat, author of three poetry collections and teacher of poetry and literary translation in the MFA Program atQueens College, City University of New York; and Susan Sonneborn, a veteran educator who specializes in developing and teaching interdisciplinary, art-integrated curriculum and writing teacher at the Montclair Art Museum's Yard School of Art.

The judges selected 16 students as the slam winners to showcase their poems at the Montclair Art Museum's Free First Thursday celebration on June 2 at 5:30 pm in Lehman Court.

The Poetry Slam was a huge hit with positive feedback from participants and attendees. "I've been to a lot of school events," said one parent. "This by far was the best one I've ever been to."

The event was made possible by generous support from the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE), Mount Hebron Parent & Teacher Association (PTA) and the Mount Hebron School Action Team for Partnership (SATp).

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