Some spoke softly and deliberately, while others used nearly the entire stage with arms waving and voices filling the room without a mic.
And that's the beauty of the annual Poetry Slam at Elgin Community College -- anything goes.
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Students from the college, as well as area high school seniors, took the stage one by one and performed their own poems about topics ranging from Batman as a larger-than-life prophet, to nuclear war.
Host Marc Smith, creator of the legendary Poetry Slam at the Green Mill in Chicago, begins the annual competition by performing poems himself, and arming the audience with the tools they need to participate along with the performers. If the audience doesn't like what they hear, foot stomping and snapping of fingers can ensue. And if a poem becomes too predictable in its rhyme, listeners join in with the appropriate words along with the performer.
Smith said the idea of "performing" poetry transformed what is, more typically, a reserved art form into a much more exciting experience for listeners.