EMERSON COLLEGE (BOSTON) — April 7–10, 35 collegiate poetry slam teams from across the United States converged at Emerson College for the 2010 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. The 10th annual event coordinated by the Association of College Unions International was the largest in its history. University of Wisconsin–Madison took first place at the end of the four-day event.
“I cannot believe it’s been a decade since this program’s inception, but we are so proud of the way it’s grown,” said ACUI Executive Director Marsha Herman-Betzen. “The invitational has enabled more than 1,000 students from nearly 200 teams to showcase their art and learn about teamwork, communication, and the lively expression that is the cornerstone of the college union idea.”
The University of California–Santa Cruz took second place and third was a tie between Macalester College and the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.
But to get to the top, these teams had to battle it out with the rest. On April 7–8, each of the 35 teams competed twice through 18 preliminary bouts. The top 10 teams then moved on to one of the two the semi-finals bouts on April 9. This year, four of those teams were from institutions participating in the program for the first time.
The top two teams from each of the semi-finals then advanced to the championship finals held at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on April 10. More than 800 people were in attendance to see the four teams perform and the University of Wisconsin–Madison be crowned the best.
The championship round was hosted by Boston Poetry Slam’s SlamMaster Simone Beaubien and included guest performances by the Youth Speaks Champion and Emerson College student George Watsky, who also served as master of ceremonies, as well as the 1998 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion Regie Gibson and his spoken-word, funk-fusion band Neon JUJU.
This year, ACUI and the planning committee wanted to add more educational opportunities to the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. Thirteen educational workshops and panels were presented on topics related to writing, performing, publishing, and studying poetry.
Along with the top four institutions being honored, individual students from teams not making the semi-finals were able to perform at the championship bout as coaches’ choice for exceptional performances. These students were Maria Roumiantseva, Montclair State University; Safia Elhillo and Tonya Ingram, New York University; and Christabel Escarez, Lewis and Clark College.
And from all 35 teams, the coaches chose institutions and individuals that stood out from the rest during the event:
Spirit of the Slam Award: Berklee College of Music
Best Writing by a Team: Hampshire College
Best Performing by a Team: Washington University
Pushing the Art Forward: Brown University
Best Male Poet: Miles Walser, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
Best Female Poet: Jamila Woods, Brown University
Best Persona Piece: "Carver" by Neil Hilborn, Macalester College
Best Poem: “Socrates” by Aaron Samuels, Washington University
Funniest Poem: "Ragnarock" by Robert Martin and Miles Walser, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
The host of the 10th annual invitational, Emerson College, is home to a memorable collegiate slam venue. “I feel very lucky to work at an institution like Emerson College that supports this sort of student programming and am still in awe of the talent we hosted,” said Associate Dean of Students Sharon Duffy, a member of the planning committee. “The students who participated in the slam truly were wonderful representatives of their institutions, and we all brought out the best in each other! I was sad to see everyone disperse but am looking forward to next year’s event!”
The College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational is the only licensed poetry slam tournament bringing college students together to showcase their talents. Poetry slam is the competitive art of performance poetry.
To learn more about this event, visit www.acui.org/poetryslam.