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Poetry Eco-Slam at Chicago Botanic Garden

20 February 2008
 Check out the eco-poets on YouTube

Chicago temperatures are freezing at this time of the year  and Sunday 10th February was no exception.  Dressed to endure minus 20ºC  with a wind chill of minus 40ºC, 12 young people from throughout the Chicago area fought their way through the snow to Chicago Botanic Garden for this year’s Poetry Slam, a spoken poetry competition.   


The Poetry Slam comprises one of the challenges of Chicago  Botanic Garden’s Fairchild Challenge and provides a forum for young people to express themselves through creative writing and performance.  Young people were challenged to creatively explore their feelings and thoughts on an environmental issue of their choice.

Explosive Performances 

The top five poets have now earned a place on the ’08 Eco-Slam team who will compete in Louder Than a Bomb, a Chicago teen poetry festival in late winter 2008.  These performers are preparing for the festival by training intensively with Rachel Claff and Kurt Heintz, experienced poetry and performance instructors.

Uniting Diverse Communities 

Louder than a Bomb (LATB) serves to unite disparate communities in the Chicago area, introducing young people from various social  classes, ethnic definitions and geographical areas to one another through performance poetry.  In addition to providing free space for poets to express themselves and share their work, LTAB exists to break down stereotypes based in misconceptions of race, ethnicity, gender and geography.  LTAB serves to unite disparate communities in the Chicago area, introducing young people from various social classes, ethnic definitions, and geographical areas to one another through performance poetry. In addition to providing free space for poets to express themselves and share their work, LTAB exists to break down stereotypes based in misconceptions of race, ethnicity, gender, and geography.

We Have a Winner 

The winner of this year’s Poetry Slam was Derrick ‘Dex’ Webster from Thornwood High School.  His poems ‘Natural State’ and ‘I am Earth’ appear below.

Natural State

My natural state is to nurture nature like a father raises a son
But as I glance from a far watching the corruption of its planetary state
The debris from the destruction is distracting from the dissertation displayed
Demonstrating the dishevelled planet
While ignoring the problem replacing it with political precipices
The matter of saving the planet has been overlooked
See we are stuck walking barefoot on a road of old coral and broken trees
The planet screams using sounds of the crashing waves and erupting volcanoes
These tragedies you view are the candy land version of the truth
The melting glaciers are the tears of a face that we walk on daily
But lately we forgotten the word interdependent
Collaboration is not just for rap artists
We reclining in a hammock of pollution
The crimes we commit are not going unpunished
The planet fighting back with a vengeance
It hurts us because we hurt it
So we plead and beg forgiveness
To spare us it’s from his global wrath
The path we walk is then path to healing
Dealing cards for chance to win celestial peace
Hoping to be granted a pardon
From rotten soil and the poison fruit
Changing from a free-spoken species to a soft spoken protozoan race
Of monkeys and primates with an unrealistic view of life and love
Causing craters of stupidity with a thousand tons of children books and lost ballots
Common courtesy for the earth is threatened a plant species
My question is if I nurture nature why can’t you.

I am Earth

I am earth
I’ve evolved like man have evolved to support its infantile needs
I am fruit
I give givts to humanity in Amazonian rainforest drenched in the tears of animals
I am the magnet
My gravitational pull attracts objects with more frequent flier miles than pigeons soaring
South for the winter
I am nature
I create wonders through freestyles in rap ciphers
I am a planet
I revolve at 40 bars a minute and in rap circles on streets
I am culture


Find Out More

The Fairchild Challenge
The Fairchild Challenge allows botanic gardens and other like-minded organisations to engage schools and communities in meaningful environmental education.

Association for Outdoor and Environmental Education
The AEOE supports and inspires educators in their quest for the knowledge, skills, and attitudes essential to help all learners understand, appreciate and care for their environment. As an integral part of achieving our mission, we encourage direct experience outdoors.

Urban Farming
Around a sixth of the world's population both live in a city and grow their own food. This fun and lively, colourful website investigates how people are growing food in urban areas and provides information on how food is produced.

The Human Flower Project
The Human Flower Project is an international newsgroup, photo album and discussion of how people live through flowers. We report on art, medicine, society, politics, religion, and commerce. Written and photographic submissions are welcome.

Botanic Gardens Video Tours on YouTube
People all over the world use YouTube to post video clips - and many have taken their camera into their local botanic gardens and put the results on this site. A great way to get a tour of a botanic garden you don't know and sometimes its very funny - such as the Adelaide Botanic Garden Tour.

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