By Nick Stern, Senior Reporter | Photo courtesy of Veronique Kaemerer
This fall, the Westside Campus’ Novel Slam was easily the largest and most successful slam CNM has ever seen, and it was a great time for everyone who attended, English Instructor, Veronique Kaemerer said.
For the past five years that the event has existed, there has never been anything quite like the hundreds of students that showed up for this year’s event, which lasted from Oct. 28 through Oct. 31, Kaemerer said.
“This was probably the largest novel slam ever and we have been doing this for five years. We had about 800 students this year and it was just packed,” she said.
Novel Slam is a student event that is held twice a year, once during Halloween and once roughly four to five weeks after spring midterms, and is a great time for Westside CNM students to get together to claim their academic voice, and to feel like they are a larger part of the community, she said.
Most participants read ambitious pieces of literature, some that are written by the readers themselves and others by celebrated authors, she said.
This year, students read spooky works from authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Shirley Jackson, and H.P. Lovecraft, she said.
Anyone can perform a reading, and are not limited to having to read from texts and stories selected by Kaemerer, but can read poems, play music and show off just about any talent they have, she said.
More and more people are expected to show up to the future events after this year’s turnout, and many students already have high expectations for what is yet to come, she said.
Kaemerer said that she shared many beautiful moments with her class during this year’s Novel Slam beginning with one of her students, who is blind, getting up and choosing to be the very first one to read aloud to the entire audience.
This led to many tears of compassion and also paved the way for everyone else to get up and read aloud, she said.
“Everybody in my class was just weeping and soon everybody got up and read,” she said.
Kaemerer also has another student who has had troubles publicly speaking and was courageous enough to get up and read with another student who helped her along the way, which also brought tears to the eyes of the audience, she said.
The support and compassion that each student shows towards each other is a huge part of what makes Novel Slam such a great event to witness, she said.
No one is forced to get up and read, and anyone can simply show up and sit down in the audience, get a sense of what is going on, and enjoy the show from their seat, Kaemerer said.
Kaemerer is the creator of Novel Slam, which was basically the creative solution to a growing problem among students, she said.
The idea for the event came to her about six years ago, when she was chatting with her colleagues about the importance of the relationship between reading and writing, with the idea that being a good reader is key to being a good writer, she said.
“I teach English and there is a huge symbiotic relationship between reading and writing and what you read is what you write. So if you read some very ambitious, critical stuff it really does help your writing,” she said.
After realizing that more and more students do not read, Kaemerer decided that she wanted a creative solution to the problem and realized that an event like Novel Slam is a great way to engage her students and interest them in reading, she said.
Kaemerer attended CNM many years ago when it was still TVI and had always felt it was a wonderful place for students to plant their own roots and find their own educational purposes and goals, she said.
She feels that Novel Slam has been a great way for her to give back because it gives students a chance to come together as scholars within a community, and also gives many students the confidence to shine when they might not have had it before, Kaemerer said.