Hanna Trzupek

Senior Maxwell Patterson performs his poem during a recent poetry competition in Chicago.

Ja'Mare Mitchell, Staff Writer

Senior Maxwell Patterson has a great passion for poetry and was recently recognized as one of the top 20 teen poets in all of Chicagoland. 

Patterson is part of the high school’s Permanent Ink Poetry Slam club. 

“I always wanted to be a part of the poetry team, but I just didn’t know how to go about it,” he said.

“By the time I wanted to do it we were e-learning, and I couldn’t slip up, so I just felt like I’m fighting to be heard so I had to do something.”

During the recent Rooted and Radical Poetry Festival in Chicago, he made it to the semifinal round with his poem entitled “In a Perfect World”.

The poem begins: 

In a perfect world

We’d probably make amends

But this ain’t a perfect world

So guns don’t typically jam

It’s world full of hurt

And It’s a world full of sin

“Well, I wrote that poem during COVID time when everything was crazy,” he said. “I just felt like there was a lot of downward and evil stuff going on like when all the riots were happening and stuff, so I just felt like I had to say something about it, but I didn’t expect to like be up on stage in front of people.”

Overcoming his shyness was tough for Patterson. 

“It was nerve-wracking because like I wasn’t used to of course speaking out loud in front of people especially on stage so it’s like to be heard for the first time is kind of tense,” he said

Patterson hopes to do more with poetry in the future.

“I told myself this wasn’t going to be the last time I was ever on stage in front of people,” he said.

Patterson doesn’t think poetry has to rhyme or be Shakespeare to make an impact.

“Poetry Does not have to be what people expect it to be,” he said. “It can really just be like some type of rap verse that you wrote that’s not ignorant, or something where you’re just speaking your mind.”

Paul Trembacki, coach of the poetry slam team, believes poems come in an infinite array of topics, tones and emotions, from silly to sad to super serious. 

“Kids will talk about personal challenges, tragic circumstances, or political problems, but they might also talk about butterflies or how love is like a burrito,” he said.
“Our poets this year talked about things like what would make the world better, how religion changed their life, what the cliches of social media really don’t show you, and other poignant topics.”