Students gathered in groups of twos and threes along the grassy area surrounding the Administrative Amphitheater, eager to hear their peers bare their souls at the Poetry Club’s third annual Poetry Slam.     

The participants didn’t disappoint, touching on subjects like domestic violence, environmental conservation, toxic relationships, bullying and the power of friendship. The April 11 competition hosted 75 students, including participants from a number of Merced College clubs. The poets competed for cash prizes, with $100 going to first place and $50 to the two runners-up.

Poetry Club advisor Karrie Bullock said she’s pleased with both the growth of the event and the impact of the Slam on the community.

“There are students who are looking for creative spaces,” Bullock said. “Students from both Turlock and Fresno signed up to participate this year, and having the Slam open to the public has really made it special.”

Bullock gave the participants one simple prompt for this year’s poems: empathy. She explained that she looked for poems that would speak to one person in the audience, and that the poet’s use of movement to convey their emotion would be key in the process of expression. Winners included Juniper Sprauge, Chereen Givargis and Garfield Spencer.

 “This is a space for all students,” Bullock said. “We welcome everyone, and we want to hear from anyone who has something to say.”

-- Alessandria Pedretti