Utah’s top 10 poets took the stage in March to vie for five positions on the team. A slam is judged by randomly selected audience members, with each poet allotted three minutes in three rounds. Anything can happen. The winners at the statewide slam final were Jesse Parent, Cody Winger, DeAnn Emett, Gray, Ryan Joseph Carter.
So now they are in Boston through the end of the week to top their 2010 ranking of 44th, which was the best since Utah entered the national stage in 2004. It’s not all about the competition, though. Slamming is mostly an opportunity to -- unlike the loneliness of the written word -- connect with listeners, expressing feelings others couldn't put words to. Performance poetry is a vessel for artistic expression along with, of course, word sorcery.
Word sorcerer Jesse Parent writes from Boston on August 10, 2011:
After 16 hours of air travel, including a weather day, a 20-minute guided tour of the tarmac at Boston's Logan airport by our pilot and a series of wrong turns, the Salt City Slam team finally arrived in Boston for the National Poetry Slam. This typically involves a lot of hugging and a bit of poetry. The host hotel for our event does not allow outside alcohol inside, so there's also been a bit of smuggling.
National events for poetry competitions mean long registrations and orientations. Squeezing about 300 poets into a conference room, they review the rules and announcements and set us loose to scramble for passes, bags and T-shirts. Then the day's events kick in, with everything from identity readings to haiku battles to nerd competitions. Then, the bouts start.
Our first competition was against Albuquerque, Flagstaff and Minneapolis's Punch Out Poetry. We jumped out to an early lead with DeAnn Emett's poem, "Elephants," but Albuquerque fought back and eventually took 1st place, with our team in 2nd. While Punch Out took 4th, they definitely were the highlight of my evening, basically performing a 12-minute poem in four parts. Every poet I've told this to has said, "Wow, that's ballsy!" or "I've always wanted to do that!" After that, the rain came to Boston and poets scrambled around deep puddles and various animals lining up in twos on their way to an ark.
Wednesday is our day off, but we are preparing for our next bout on Thursday with Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Vancouver. This is honestly the best position the team has ever been at Nationals, but we really need to place 1st to have a chance get into semifinals, something we have never done before. This is the place we have to go big, or go home.