Monthly Archives: August 2014

The SLAM Returns to CPC

Slam Audience

CPC was rocked on Thursday night by the 2nd Annual Poetry Slam and Multicultural Celebration.  Students, faculty, and staff packed the dining hall turned slam stage to see who would bring their best game and take over the title of CPC Slam Poet Champion and celebrate our cultural diversity past and present.

Dinner ServiceThe evening kicked off with a very welcoming international dinner sponsored by CPC’s International Society Club and included the handy work of Tynesha Robinson, Christine Fusselman, Kendra Elliot, and of course, club advisor, Romeo Azondekon.  Everyone raved about the international cuisine, going back for second, thirds, and even a couple take-home boxes.   Many thanks to the club’s dedicated members and their unending generosity for our student body.

Special thanks goes out to the Drama Club whose faculty advisor, Janet Bixler, helped to organize the event.  The Drama Club helped with set-up and clean-up, and several of its members performed in the contest.  The Central Pen E-zine would also like to thank Danielle Klebes and Student Activities for helping to plan the event and being the evening’s musical director.

330 Students

In addition to the international fare, students from Professor Maria James-Thiaw‘s Contemporary Writers of Color course created displays representing the writers they had been studying.  Students on hand included Giancarlo VanWright, Tony Noon, Ricky Cousar, Byron GuinyardNathan Reichert, and Michael Troutman, and a special thanks to the rest of the class including Kareem Aiken, Robert Ashkenes, Monica Hacker, Tamirra Milton, and Jamar Royster, for their behind-the-scenes work.


The Hosts! Jade and Steve-O


Maria James-Thiaw

The Slam kicked off with a short poem from Maria James-Thiaw, “I am a poem,” which immediately set the tone and texture for the night’s contestants.  She welcomed our two hosts, Jade Harper and Steve “Steve-O” Osango, whose enthusiasm, humor, and passion kept the crowd buzzing all night.  The hosts introduced the judges, which included CPC’s own Maria James-Thiaw, local poet Dustin Nispel, student judge Ricky Cousar, and CPC’s Melissa Wehler.

IMG_4695Last year’s winner, Derrick “Muff” Johnson, was on hand to give support to the contestants telling them to ‘be their best’ and ‘have fun.’  We were also excited to have Christine Lincoln, the current poet laureate of York who performed a poem later on in the evening that welcomed new poetic talent into the fold.

Dustin Nispel

Local slam poet and author, Dustin Nispel, blessed the mic with two poems that had the audience snapping, clapping, laughing, and hooting.  Nispel played double-duty as both guest present and celebrity judge.  Nispel brought copies of his new book, The Tower, is a ‘blending of Spoken Word and poetry,’ which was quickly buzzed by the contestants and the crowd.

After Nispel warmed up the mic, the evening was turned over to the students.  One-by-one students stepped to the mic to pour our their passion in the hope of winning the $100 grand prize and the right to the title CPC Slam Champion.



TJ Blackwell, President of the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club, kicked off the evening’s events followed by a slew of newcomers.  Huge congrats to Sakinah Aziz, Aliah Speights, Ayana Addison, and Cody Robinson for blessing the mic.  Performers talked of love and loss, of growing up and moving on, and of triumphs and struggles in world that seems all too often stacked against them.  The audience gave snaps and claps as the results of the performances were announced.

After a dozen performances, three winners pulled away from the others:

3rd Prize: Lakeia Washington

Lakeia Washington


2nd Place: Teta Gaye

Teta Gaye

1st Place: Isaiah Isley

Isaiah Isley

 A special thank you to everyone who helped to bring the event to life whether that was organizing, planning, watching, or blessing the mic!

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Six Steps to Awesome: How to Write a Free Verse Poem

Free Verse

Are you struggling with writing a poem without rhyme or meter? Some say free verse is easy, but its not. That’s why I’m here to help! Just follow my simple steps and in no time you’ll have yourself an awesome free verse poem.
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Poetry Slam: Press Annoucement

2nd Annual Poetry Slam and Multicultural Event

Poet Slam[Summerdale]On Thursday, August 28th at 7:00 PM in Scoozis Café, the Central Pen Literary E-zine will present its second annual Poetry Slam & Multicultural Event. This FREE poetic competition will be M.C.ed by 2014 Central Pen Poetry Prize winner, Jade Harper, and Drama Club member, Jamar Royster. Students will have the opportunity to win cash for poetic performances. Local slam winner and published author, Dustin Nispel, will be one of the judges and his new book, The Tower, will be available for sale and signing.


“Poetry slams make poems leap off the page! They bring poems to life for the common person. Poems can be about virtually any subject and poets have 3 minutes to drop it like it’s hot,” says 3-time slam winner, Professor Maria Thiaw. “They just have to remember that they’ll be disqualified for going over time, so no disclaimers or apologies!”


Poetry Slams were developed in the 1990’s at the Green Mill in Chicago and have since gone international. In a slam, poets perform their work in 3 minutes or less with no props.  In national slams poems are recited from memory, but for this event, students will be able to use a reading script.


“I’d just be sure that they can see their poem’” warns Central Pen editor, Dr. Melisssa Wehler, “Small print on a cell phone in a dim room may get in the way of a powerful performance.”


Four judges (2 students and 2 professional poets) will determine who will walk away with the prize money and Central Penn swag! The first place winner will receive $100, while second place will get $50 and third will win $25. The winners will be promoted in The Central Pen e-zine and invited to perform their award-winning poems at the [K]Night of Theatrics, on October 9th, the 1st event for the Underground’s new theatre!

The International Society will be providing an assortment of cultural foods at the event, and drinks will be available from Scoozi’s Café, so students can nourish their bellies as well as their minds!


Students that wish to compete can pre-register by emailing The Central Pen at  Registration will be available at the door as well, but space is limited. Be sure to sign up now.

The event is a group effort between the Central Pen staff, the new Central Penn Players Drama Club, the International Society and Professor Maria Thiaw’s HUM330 Contemporary American Writers of Color Class.

The Central Pen is a literary e-zine edited by Dr. Melissa Wehler and Professor Maria Thiaw. Check out the latest issue here.  For more information or to reserve your performance spot, contact today.

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The Central Pen Rocks the Mic at Common Hour

1st Place Derrick "Muff" Johnson

1st Place Derrick “Muff” Johnson at the 2013 Poetry Slam

At the SGA’s common hour on August 7, 2014, The Central Pen rocked the mic with performances by our own Maria James Thiaw, faculty advisor, Jade Harper, 2013 Poetry Contest Winner, and Derrick “Muff” Johnson, 2013 Poetry Slam Winner.

Professor Maria Thiaw hit off the presentation with her ‘Wordaholic’ spoken word piece to an enthusiastic applause.

Thiaw was followed by Jade Harper who read her award winning poem, ‘I Am.’  Harper’s self-affirming poem won her the Academy of American Poets University Prize back in April.

The presentation was rounded out with Derrick “Muff” Johnson delivering his winning poetry slam piece from last year.

The crowd was also invited to join us for our 2nd Annual Poetry slam where Johnson will defend his title against all challengers.  The Slam will take place on August 28th at Scoozi’s cafe.  Performers should arrive by 7 pm to get their names on the list.  The slam will start at 7.30 sharp.  Prizes will be awarded and winners will be crowned!

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It’s Time to SLAM!

Poet Slam


When: Thursday, August 28th (doors open at 7 pm, the slam starts at 7.30)
Where: Scoozi’s
Why: Prizes!  $100 first place; $50 second place
Who: YOU!

For more information, contact us:

See our other post about getting ready for the slam here and get inspired by our creative minds on campus: Isaiah Isley, Derrick Johnson,  and Dezmyn Edmond.

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It’s almost time for THE SLAM! Are you ready?

The 2nd Annual Poetry Slam Competition is almost here, and we’re looking for CPC poets to bring their A game.  

Poetry SlamTo get you ready to rock the stage, check out how some other poets have brought the slam:

How will you slam?

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