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Students compete at national collegiate poetry slam

April 26, 2010

  • Christabel Escarez ’11, performing at a poetry slam. Photo by Sarah Murphy Jurado.
  • Christabel Escarez ’11, performing at a poetry slam. Photo by Marvin Buenaventura.

Five Lewis & Clark students traveled to Boston this month to participate in a national collegiate tournament of slam poetry, the competitive art of performance poetry.

Kelly Aldinger ’10, Christabel Escarez ’11, Chris Leja ’12, Erik Rice ’12, and Anna Spackman ’12 competed against 35 other teams from colleges across the country during the 2010 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) held at Emerson College.

Apocalips, Lewis & Clark’s slam poetry club, held a qualifying event in February to decide who would represent the college at the national competition. Throughout the spring, the five students selected worked together to prepare to perform alongside some of the best slam poets in the nation.

“The team put in a lot of work before the competition,” Escarez said. “We got together for a few hours multiple times a week to memorize, practice, write team pieces, and work on performance. What I love about our team is that we’re there for the love of poetry, not the competition.”

Though the Lewis & Clark team did not advance to the final rounds of competition, Escarez was honored for her exceptional performance and invited to perform individually during the championship bout.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California-Santa Cruz took first and second place, respectively, in the overall competition.

“CUPSI is amazing—it’s life-changing,” Escarez said. “The beautiful thing about slam poetry is that the best poets aren’t only the best writers, but they’re also the ones willing to get the most vulnerable on stage. There are poets who I have formed incredibly meaningful relationships with, but ideologically, I might disagree with on almost every level. I don’t know if I would have ever spoken with these people outside of this setting, but the fact is we have formed these amazing relationships and they have solely risen out of a shared passion for poetry.”

Looking ahead, Escarez hopes more students will get involved with Apocalips and participate in slam poetry on campus.

“Everyone should come to a slam, come to an open mic, come to writing circle,” she said. “The great thing about LC is the community. Everybody is willing to listen and genuinely would like to hear you say what you wrote, what you think, or whatever else you feel like saying.”

Learn more:

Pioneer Log: “Apocalips kicks off semester, sends four slam poets to College Nationals”

Association of College Unions International: “University of Wisconsin-Madison takes first at the 2010 Poetry Slam”


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