A poetic celebration of writing at Elon Law

Members of the Elon Law community commemorated the National Day on Writing with performances during a “High Rhymes and Misdemeanors” Poetry Slam that has become a fall tradition for lyrically gifted future attorneys.

From left: Atlanta Woodall L’23, Jean Rice L’23, Cassandra Saxton L’23, Assistant Professor Tiffany Atkins L’11, Charlie Schatz L’21, Stephanie Kennedy, and Emmanuel Agyemang-Dua L’22.

Elon Law students crafted their own pentameters and proclamations in a poetry contest that commemorated the 2021 National Day of Writing.

The Third Annual “High Rhymes and Misdemeanors” Poetry Slam on October 29 featured four original student works plus performances by an Elon Law professor and an Elon Law staff member.

First place went to “Ode to Schmerd,” a poem by Emmanuel Agyemang-Dua L’22 that references an alter ego used in Professor Steve Friedland’s criminal law courses. His prize? A $75 Visa gift card.


Elon Law students cheer their classmates who performed in the poetry slam on October 29, 2021, as part of the law school’s commemoration of the National Day on Writing.

“Ode to Schmerd”

For this law school learning I must be a nerd
Late nights reading and briefing, but I take some time and I wonder
Will they ever catch Schmerd?
He’s often seen at legal grounds, soliciting the 1Ls
Especially when they’re busy, focused on finals
Schmerd is a menace, Schmerd is a tool
Schmerd is the morally blameworthy character you see around school
Schmerd will embezzle, steal, and even kill
But Schmerd will never do it alone, he lacks the skill
His specialty is to entice
Collusion his device
But he’s never caught in the act
They will never catch him
That’s a fact.
His intentions are plain but not too nefarious
He may punch and hit you but nothing too dangerous
He was seen last week conversing with Fred
They said it was conspiracy, but they’ll never catch Schmerd.



Emmanuel Agyemang-Dua L’22’s poem “Ode to Schmerd” won first place in Elon Law’s Third Annual “High Rhymes and Misdemeanors” Poetry Slam on October 29, 2021.

“I entered the poetry competition last year as well and enjoy creative writing,” Agyemang-Dua said. “Since being in law school, it has been an opportunity for me to express myself in another form other than legal writing.”

Classmates who took part in the competition offered similar motivations for their participation.

“I was excited, nervous, and moved by this experience, and I learned I can have another way to express myself through words,” said Atlanta Woodall L’23, whose performance of “Roots That Grow” with Jean Rice L’23 won the poetry slam’s People’s Choice Award. “I loved how that made me feel and wanted to let people know who I am while allowing myself to be vulnerable and expressing that in a new way. … I am very grateful for the people that came out and supported competitors who shared their poetry!”

Hosted by Elon Law’s Legal Method & Communication Program with support from Elon University’s Center for Writing Excellence, the poetry slam offered students a way to express themselves outside of the legal writing tradition.

Associate Professor Catherine Wasson joined with Assistant Professor Tiffany Atkins L’11 and Writing Specialist Janet Keefer to judge the poetry contest.

“You need a creative outlet. You need to be able to have some fun. You have to have a way to speak your mind in a way that is not costly,” said Writing Specialist Janet Keefer. “We’re trying to make this a tradition that coincides with the National Day on Writing to show that … writing is something that can be enjoyed by the writer, and it is something that is enjoyed by those who read or hear it.”

Participants in the 2021  “High Rhymes and Misdemeanors” Poetry Slam

  • Emmanuel Agyemang-Dua L’22
  • Assistant Professor Tiffany Atkins L’11
  • Staff member Stephanie Kennedy
  • Cassandra Saxton L’23
  • Charlie Schatz L’21
  • Jean Rice L’23
  • Atlanta Woodall L’23


  • Assistant Professor Tiffany Atkins L’11
  • Associate Professor Catherine Wasson
  • Writing Specialist Janet Keefer