Alex Sherman-Cross loves performing poetry.
“At slams, you and the audience have a definite relationship,” says Alex, an English Adolescent Education and Religious Studies double major here at The College of Saint Rose. “They’ll boo and hiss, but they’ll also cheer and shout things out. It’s great to have an active audience.”
Alex will be the featured reader for the upcoming Third Thursday Poetry Night, to be held at 7:30pm at the Social Justice Center on November 21.
Originally from Manlius, a small town outside of Syracuse, Alex is no stranger to the Albany poetry scene, and has been competing in the Nitty Gritty Slam since 2011. When Alex graduates from Saint Rose in May 2015, she plans to continue her performance career. We caught up with her before her performance to ask about poetry, her favorite poet, and her long-term plans.
How long have you been writing poetry?
I’ve been actively writing poetry in various styles since eighth grade, when we had to do a poetry project for English. And I fell in love with it.
Who or what inspires your poems?
My poems are inspired by a lot of things—my friends, my family, societal issues, my religion, and my experiences. A lot of the time, something someone says off-hand will inspire a stanza, or even a whole poem.
Is there a reoccurring theme within your poetry? What do you usually find yourself writing about?
Apples pop up a lot in my poems, but I wouldn’t say that’s a theme, so much. I don’t have much of a theme in my finished poems, although there will be swaths where I’ll have nothing in my notebook but poetry about one topic.
Do you have a favorite poet?
That is such a loaded question! I have a lot of poets whose work I enjoy. I really love Walt Whitman, if I had to pick one.
What made you decide to compete in your first slam?
I saw a poster for the Nitty Gritty Slam on campus, and I decided to go because I had heard about slam poetry in my sophomore year of high school. When I got there, I just sorta signed up. I had poems with me, and I didn’t mind reading out loud. I came in fourth, which isn’t bad for a first-timer.
What is your favorite part about competing in poetry slams?
The fact that the audience actually reacts. You don’t get that at most readings. At Frequency North, for example, the audience doesn’t react that much. They’re pretty much silent.
You will be the featured poet at the upcoming Third Thursday Poetry Night on November 21st. Is this your first time putting together a full set of poems for performance?
Yes, this is my first time putting a full set together. I’m used to picking three, and knowing that I might only read one.
How has the experience been for you thus far?
It’s a tad nerve-wracking. I’m honored that Dan Wilcox asked me to be the featured poet. It was a bit of an eye-opener for me too, though, like “wow, people think of me as a REAL POET!”
Would you rather perform your poetry for an audience or compete in a poetry slam? Or do you not make any distinction between the two?
There is a difference, but it depends on the audience. I’m hoping that people will react at the Poetry Night, because I’ve read my poems at school events before, and you could have heard a pin drop. It was horrible. I’d rather read in a slam, because then I know the audience will react if you’re doing a good job. Also, you get to hear other great poets, you get judged on your performance and poem, which is instant feedback, which is great.
Do you have any long-term goals as far as writing is concerned?
Just to keep on doing it. I’d love to get published, of course, or to have a viral video. Maybe to have a poem turned into a comic on Zen Pencils, even! I’ll just keep writing, writing, writing….