Holsworthy student slams competitors with poetry

Ifeoma Obiegbu’s passionate performance helped her to land first place in Bankstown Poetry Slam’s program Real Talk.

The not-for-profit organisation runs poetry programs with schools across Sydney where students can workshop their communication skills.

Founder Sara Mansour said Real Talk addressed the need for young people to be heard.

“A lot of these students are inherently creative. They come from a storytelling background,” Ms Mansour said.

“This is all about helping them shift feelings of anxiety, humiliation and depression to feelings of creativity, success and empowerment.”

Year 10 Holsworthy High School student Ifeoma said she was surprised about her latest win and “didn’t want to make a big deal about it.”

The Minto resident said she tied first place with another student and there were three finalists.

“I can’t really comprehend it,” she said. “I thought all the other poems were amazing. My poem was just about my relationship with my dad. I think there were elements of comedy but touching moments that other students could relate to.”

She told Fairfax Media the key to poetry is speaking your mind. She explained what her poem was about.

“The thing that drew me to poetry is expressing yourself and being able to relate to other people. My mentor said to write something that ponders your mind so I wrote about the ups and downs with my dad.

“We have a good relationship, I’ve always been close to him but sometimes we’ll have tiffs about who I’m hanging out with and how I make use out of my time.”

Ifeoma was born in Australia and her parents come from a Nigerian background. 

“My parents want me to stick to my roots, that’s how it is in my culture. I visit there every year and speak Igbo. 

“My dad is quite a traditional man and expects me to do chores, such as helping to cook and clean and there’s a big emphasis on having respect.

“I don’t think I’m torn between two cultures though, I have friends who face similar ups and downs with their parents. They need to do chores and they are Australian.”

She said her father hasn’t heard the poem yet but her mother was proud of her accomplishment.

“I think she was surprised when she found out what the poem was about but she was happy I won.

“Writing is good for relief and relating to others.”

This year 13 schools participated in the program including St Ives High School, Liverpool Boys High School, Macquarie Fields High School, James Ruse Agricultural High School, Bankstown Girls High School, Chester Hill High School, Blakehurst High School, Sir Joseph Banks High School, East Hills Boys High School, Beverly Hills Girls High School and Kogarah High School.