Two Lindbergh High School seniors poetry-slammed their way to college scholarships as part of the Damien Wilkins Foundation Poetry Slam, held at the Seattle Sonics’ last home game April 13.
Britney Smith won the $1,000 grand-prize scholarship and Celeste Bolden the first runner-up $500 scholarship. Monica Washington of Seattle’s Cleveland High School won the second runner-up $500 prize.
The three winners and the other attending finalists watched the Sonics 99-95 win over the L.A. Clippers in the private suite of Sonics guard-forward Damien Wilkins. The three winners were presented by Wilkins to the crowd just before tip-off.
Wilkins put on the contest through his youth foundation, called DYNAMIC (Developing Youth Needs Athletically Artistically & Mentally Increasing Confidence). The slam’s 10 entrants were narrowed to six at an earlier contest held at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center Auditorium.
Both Smith and Bolden are Langston Hughes theater students. Neither consider herself a poet.
“I am just amazed at myself,” Smith says of her win. She entered the contest at the urging of her mentor, a Seattle Parks Department employee.
Smith’s winning poem is called “Unity.”
“Basically it was talking all the races, and having them coming together and being one,” she says.
She wrote the poem — her first ever — especially for the Sonics contest.
Bolden says she feels good about her finish. Her winning poem is called “Iono” (I don’t know). She says she wrote it “kind of last minute, on the top of my head.”
“The poem is basically about how I’m undecisive about what I want to do,” she says. “Like I’m in search of something but I don’t know what it is.”
Bolden’s no longer so indecisive. She hopes to go to Washington State University, where she will study business or marketing. She wants to open her own nail and hair salon or be a standup comedian or enter the culinary arts.
Smith hopes to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., and study business and performing arts.
In addition to winning the grand-prize scholarship, Smith enjoyed watching the last Sonics home game from Wilkins’ suite.
“I love the Sonics,” she says. “I’ve never been in a suite before, so that experience and the game was really nice.”