Of all of the competitions within Läroverksfejden, the last one, concerning the arts, is one of the most enjoyable and competitive in the entire tournament- besides being a great opportunity to make and hear jokes about the different schools’ stereotypes. The great variety of events- music, dance, theatre and slam poetry- mean that everyone is thirsty to get their hands on a ticket. According to the Student Union, tickets sold out in just over one hour, a clear representation of students’ enthusiasm for the final sprint of the tournament. For a competing representative, however, this enthusiasm is no doubt a double-edged sword. On one hand, you feel happy that your talent is recognised, and on the other, you feel that the entire student body is depending on you to do well. When I competed in Läroverksfejden’s theatre section as a representative of Kungsholmen last year, I felt a mixture of both- dealing with the expectations of 1300 students is a special kind of terrifying.
So when I sit down at the computer to Skype Klara Lindström, Kungsholmen’s representative for the slam poetry part of the competition, it is an unexpected though certainly not unwelcome surprise that even through a shaky Internet connection, the confidence in her voice is clear. Though she may be a second year, this is her first year at Kungsholmen and therefore the concept of Läroverksfejden, an alien one to those unfamiliar with the friendship and rivalry between the four schools, is new to her. “I thought it was a tradition that had existed for a long time, so I was surprised when I heard it was relatively new,” she says. “I think it’s great that it’s become so well-established.”
Despite her late introduction to Läroverksfejden, however, Klara understands the importance of the event more than anyone, and recognises the responsibility. “I was practicing in front of my brother just a few minutes ago,” she laughs. “I practice in front of the mirror, in front of family members- it’s a good thing that I don’t get nervous!” This lack of nervousness is a valuable trait, especially considering that Klara is new to slam poetry. Her passion for written poetry and theatre were what spurred her on to try out. “I haven’t performed any of my poems before,” she says, “but combining my interest in theatre and my interest in poetry felt like a very good mix.”
The theme of the arts section for this year’s Läroverksfejden was a broad one- transformation- and for the slam poetry section, there was another word that was given. That word was “stop”. “It’s very easy to interpret that negatively,” Klara mused. “But what I think is that transformation is continuous change. It can seem good, but at the same time be very demanding.” Her poem, a brand new one written especially for Läroverksfejden (“I wanted it to fit well with the theme”), draws inspiration from her own personal experiences and her definition of the two words “transformation” and “stop”. When asked whether she thought that the other schools’ representatives’ definitions would coincide with hers, she responded, “[My definition] feels very personal. For me, it’s about being young and wanting to do and learn and change so much that you end up running out of energy. There may be others who have the same interpretation of the theme, but it would surprise me very much.”
Seeing the differences between the four schools’ poems is part of the excitement, however, as the prompts allow for creative interpretation. “It’ll be fun to see what the others [from the four schools] have to offer, because the words have very broad definitions. You can do a lot with two words.” The way that Klara has chosen to interpret the theme has led to her describing her poem as “personal, strong, and naked”- three keywords that guarantee nothing short of an electrifying performance. Though Klara repeats that she doesn’t know what to expect from the other slam poets, she thinks that what will set her poem apart from the rest is her good delivery of the poem. “They’re my own words that I like, with a message that I like,” she says, something which accurately encapsulates the essence of slam poetry.
For myself, as a third party, the action of delivering a message in one’s own words is what separates slam poetry from the rest of entertainment. Writers can capture emotion, but it is difficult for them to convey humanity without physical expressions and movement. Actors can capture passion, but they can seldom be as passionate as those who have chosen the words themselves. It is combining these mediums- an individual ensnaring an audience with words, with movement and with expression- that is slam poetry. Klara, with her deeply personal poem and the support of an entire high school behind her, sets out to conquer those mediums tomorrow. Does she think she can take home the victory? “Yes,” she says with a smile. “I feel confident, and confidence tends to shine through.”