Poetry slam | Finding inspiration in the moment

Marco Maynard at the 2017 Poetry Slam at Sierra Nevada College.

Marco Maynard has a way with words. I remember how he moved the crowd with his lyrics that allowed him to advance round after round, eventually winning him first place in the 2017 Sierra Nevada College Poetry Slam last April.

“It’s an opportunity to let people hear how your poem is supposed to sound, get across the semantics.”
–Marco Maynard

Another rounds of poets will take part in this year’s SNC Poetry Slam on April 27 and Maynard took time out of his busy day as a clinical researcher to share his experiences with poetry.

Read Marco’s 2017 winning poem

“From when I was a little kid, I was writing music, being a little weirdo,” he says about how he got into poetry. He grew up in Nevada City playing violin and a variety of other instruments; he started writing and recording his own music. He moved to Tahoe to attend Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, Nev., and while studying chemistry and biology, he entered his first poetry slam.

“I’ve always loved poetry. It’s an opportunity to let people hear how your poem is supposed to sound, get across the semantics,” Maynard says. “You write a poem differently for someone who is just going to read it.”

He enjoys entering poetry slams because he likes the theatrics and believes that sharing a poem in person to a crowd is the best way to drive home its meaning. To prepare for a slam, he will write and memorize five or six poems, monitor the crowd to see how it’s responding and adapt accordingly. He has competed and placed in three of SNC’s poetry slams during his college tenure, moving up the ranks and taking first the year he graduated.

Marco Maynard with his dog, Kaya, as work.

“A slam is a unique environment, I learned a lot from watching some of the people up there,” Maynard says.

It takes him anywhere from 5 minutes to a few years to create a 30-line poem, depending on how and when he gets caught up in an inspirational moment.

Currently Maynard is working at Simmaron Research in Incline Village, assisting in research projects to combat and find a cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Although he is fairly busy, he loves having a bioresearch job in Tahoe and the added benefit of being able to bring his dog, Kaya, to work.

“[SNC] gave me a strong writing background that really helps here,” he says about his grant writing and scientific research tasks. “I know the connection with the flow of words, in the diction, grammar and semantics. On the other side, I enjoy the dynamic, spiritual connection my work gives me and helping find something significant that can change people’s lives. It’s cool to be a part of something so big in this little rural area of Lake Tahoe — and we don’t do animal research,” he says. “Everything demands good communication and writing. No matter what you do, it helps with everything.”

In a slam, Maynard says that it’s important to convey a message that people feel and understand. He will write down a mantra here and there, but he hasn’t been writing a lot of poetry lately because things are going well right now in his life.

“When I’m suffering and have big bouts of emotion is when I get it all out,” he says.

He admits to Kaya being his biggest positive influence and points to a sunset photo he took of Kaya swimming in Lake Tahoe.

“I write a lot of short one-liners, especially about Kaya. Poetry is like this picture, I will never forget how I felt taking that pic,” he says.

While Maynard is enjoying life and all that he has worked so hard for, he attributes much of his success to his time at SNC.

“I want to give a big thank you to SNC for letting me go to a school like that, allowing me to live in Lake Tahoe and for making life so great I don’t have to write poetry all the time,” he says.

The Tahoe Poetry Slam will be held on April 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at SNC’s Patterson Hall. Cash prizes will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners. The winner is crowned the Tahoe Slam Champion of the Year. | sierranevada.edu/event