Bomaderry High School student impresses at Australian Slam Poetry regional heat

TALENTED: North Nowra resident Belle Jeffrey took equal second at the regional Australian Poetry Slam heat recently and will compete at the state competition in Sydney next month. Photo: contributed.

TALENTED: North Nowra resident Belle Jeffrey took equal second at the regional Australian Poetry Slam heat recently and will compete at the state competition in Sydney next month. Photo: contributed.

She’s just thirteen-years-old but Belle Jeffrey’s powerful poem has seen her take equal second place at the Australian Slam Poetry regional heat.

The Bomaderry High School student joined 11 other performance writers for the regional slam heat at Nowra Library on Saturday, September 2. 

With five audience judges chosen at random by whoever caught a chocolate, Belle’s poem ‘Pretty’ stunned both the crowds and the judges scorecards. 

“It was kind of about how societal images of beauty affect young girls my age,” Belle said. 

“The way we’re raised, it’s about pretty being good and it affects how people look at us, whether we’re pretty or not.”

Belle’s parents, brother, aunty and uncle and her friend turned out to watch as she delivered her poem. 

“My friend was crying – I think it’s something we all relate to,” Belle said. 

The year eight student’s love of poetry began earlier this year in her English class when her teacher showed videos of slam poetry. 

Intrigued, Belle began watching slam poetry videos at home and started writing her own. 

“Slam poetry is poetry but a lot of it is performance and it’s got an almost political message, it has rhythm and it’s very personal,” Belle said. 

YOUNG WRITER: Belle's interest in slam poetry was piqued after her English teacher at Bomaderry High School showed students videos of other performers. Photo: contributed.

YOUNG WRITER: Belle's interest in slam poetry was piqued after her English teacher at Bomaderry High School showed students videos of other performers. Photo: contributed.

Performing writers are given a microphone, a live audience, and just two minutes to capture the crowd. 

After each performance, judges held up score cards using a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the highest. 

Of the five scores for each poet, only the middle three scores are counted. The judges’ decisions are final.

While Saturday’s performance was the first time she’s taken to the stage, Belle will have another chance next month when she goes on to perform at the state finals at the State Library of NSW on October 14.

The national competition will be held the following day at the Sydney Opera House. 

Belle placed equal second with Shoalhaven Heads resident Libby Keller, whose poem ‘Shadows’ was based on her own experiences of her adult children leaving home. 

The competition was won by Craig Green from Milton, with his satirical rendition of ‘Eighty-nine Ways to Prolong Agony’.

Ms Keller congratulated Belle on her poem and wished her luck at the state final. 

“Her poem was fantastic and her and Craig will be a great representation for Nowra and the Shoalhaven,” she said. 

“It’s wonderful to have a wide spectrum of the population representing us and I think it’s a very strong team to send on.” 

‘Pretty’

By Belle Jeffrey

I am thirteen years old

Served to the world on a gleaming silver platter

The words “pretty, but not pretty enough”

Tattooed on my body

My achievements and attributes are a side dish

On a much smaller plate

And I think to myself Is this why?

Is this why?

I am scared to go from my house to the bus stop alone

Is this why?

My friends have matching horror stories

Of guys who touch them and make them uncomfortable

Is this why?

My male friends laugh when we say we are afraid

To be out after dark

Is this why?

The teacher did nothing when another student slapped my ass

Is this why?

At thirteen years of age

My beauty and worth have become interchangeable

In the eyes of a society blinded by medieval veils

Well, not anymore

Because now I don’t think, I say

And I say that pretty is not the rent I pay to exist

And I say that my worth is not on my face but in my heart

Next time you try to serve me up

I will leap from your plate

Because I am no longer a meal

And I demand my place at the table.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop