Slam Poetry comes to UND

Ana Chisholm, Arts & Community

On Tuesday, Feb. 5th, as part of the Perspective Speaker Series, the University of North Dakota brought Pages Matam to campus to conduct a creative writing and performance workshop as well as a performance later in the evening.


Pages Matam is a national and two-time regional poetry slam champion, Callaloo Fellow and a performer and featured artist on Upworthy, Okay Africa, Huffington, Macy’s, The Apollo Theater and many others. Having received his MFA from the University of Maryland, Pages Matam is now an educator himself and is currently residing in Washington, D.C.


The day started with Pages Matam leading a creative writing workshop and a performance workshop. Here he helped aspiring writers and performers work on their craft.


In the evening, he performed in the Memorial Union Ballroom reading many of his slam poetry pieces. Amidst the cold there was still a good turn out for the event and excitement filled the air as he began his readings.


The evening proceeded in much merriment as Matam is a very relaxed and experienced performer who had great crowd interactions. He started the evening by hopping down off the stage to be closer to the audience, He informed the crowd about slam poetry and what typical poetry reading etiquette is.


Pages Matam said, “Poetry is not like golf, it’s interactive.”


He wanted the audience to feel free to comment or express themselves as he read.


He proceeded to read a number of his works. His voice flowed seamlessly from talking into poetry. Matam’s interests lay heavily in immigration reform, youth advocacy, the education field, violence and abuse trauma work, all of which could be seen, heard and felt through his works.


Throughout the evening Matam told the story of his life, all the ups and downs, the good and the bad, and managed to do so in a way that kept everyone smiling which is a skill not many have when talking about such serious issues.


To help keep the air light and atmosphere fun, Matam read from a new collection of poetry that he will be releasing in the next month. This collection is made up of haikus. Matam said that he wrote the collection after a breakup. He went through a period in which he was listening to a lot of Drake songs, therefore, he calls them Drakus. This collection is a wonderful mixture of funny and heartfelt poems that many can relate to. They were a hit at the event and had numerous requests for him to read more from his collection.


The night ended with a question and answer session with Matam which would have lasted most the night if it had not had a time limit for much of the audience felt comfortable enough to ask him questions.

Finally, at the end of the event Matam was asked to announce the winner of a five-hundred-dollar scholarship the Student Involvement Office was giving away to one of the people attending the events. This was a surprise to most of the audience as it was not announced that there would be such an award and it came as a very pleasant surprise to the recipient of the scholarship.


Matam stayed late after the event visiting with many of the students who attended.