Interdisciplinary collaboration presents first-ever poetry slam


Lou Foglia

Madison Zielinski, a freshman creative writing major and a student in “Anatomies of Slam Poetry,” won first place at the college’s first poetry slam hosted by Zielinski’s class and the “Club Management: Practicum” course.

By Campus Editor

Nine poets competed for best poet of the night at Columbia’s first-ever poetry slam. Madison Zielinski, a freshman creative writing major, won over the judges and took first place at the Dec. 4 contest held at the HAUS in the 623 S. Wabash Ave. Building.

The poetry slam was divided into three rounds in which five judges from the audience rated the poets on a 1–10 scale. Three poets were eliminated each round. 

Zielinski, whose poems focused primarily on relationships, said she was happy to win the competition and that all the poets did a great job.

“It’s nice that I won, but at the same time, everyone performs so well,” Zielinski said. “F–k the scores. It’s not about winning. It’s about performing and putting your all into it.”

Although Zielinski said she was nervous during her three performances, it was good exposure and a meaningful learning experience.

“I didn’t expect to make it as far as I did,” Zielinski said. “It’s nerve-wracking, but at the same time, it’s nice to have your work shown.”

Jacob Victorine, an adjunct faculty member in the Creative Writing Department who teaches the “Anatomies of Slam Poetry” course, hosted the competition. He said his class collaborated with Joe Bogdan’s “Club Management: Practicum” class to organize the show. This is the first semester the poetry class has been offered at the college, and Victorine said he wanted to give students an opportunity to perform at the end of the semester as part of their final project.

“It’s important for students to understand slam in practice, meaning performing in front of people,” Victorine said. “My hope for my students is that they connect with their poetry, have fun and perform work that they think is meaningful.”

Victorine added that he wants to collaborate with Bogdan’s class again in future semesters to allow new students a chance to perform.

Bogdan, an assistant professor in the Business & Entrepreneurship Department, said every semester his class collaborates with different departments, student organizations and bands to host events six times throughout each semester that take place every other Thursday in the HAUS. He said the class gives students realistic work experience by consistently planning real events.

“You can read from a book and talk about how events are supposed to go and what needs to be done in order to get ready for an event or to run a club, but unless you’re actually doing it, you don’t know where the real pitfalls are,” Bogdan said. “Given the safe environment that is Columbia College, it’s a great place for students to make those missteps without the consequences they would suffer in the real world.”

Bogdan said he challenged his students to collaborate with Victorine’s poetry class because they often host student bands.

“We’re big on collaboration with other departments,” Bogdan said. “[My students] have been working hard to put together this event.”

Brittani Nelson, a student in Bogdan’s class, and marketing manager for the event and a graduate student in the Business & Entrepreneurship Department, said the event drew more than 90 people. She said her responsibilities leading up to the event were to publicize it around the campus and Chicago.

Nelson said collaborating with Victorine’s class ran smoothly over the course of the semester, and the class was able to earn revenue through entrance fees for non-student attendees.

“I think the event went exceptionally well,” Nelson said. “People were very interactive, as slam poetry is supposed to be.”