Thom Francis

The official list of the 72 poetry slams that are going to be gathering in Charlotte in August for the National Poetry Slam was posted the other day on the PSi website. As we were looking over the list, noticing familiar names and cities that we have traveled through and performed in, I thought about the fact that a lot of the folks in the Albany area may not know about about the other slam teams that Team Nitty Gritty will be competing against.

So, I am going to make it easy by introducing you to the teams myself. In this first part of the series, we will be go through teams 1 -10 on the list.

1 – Boston Poetry Slam @ the Cantab Lounge, Boston, MA

Slam Master: Simone Beaubien
The Boston Poetry Slam takes place every Wednesday evening at the Cantab Lounge in beautiful Cambridge, Massachsetts.

The Boston Poetry Slam kicked off in May of 1991, imported directly from slam’s birthplace, Chicago, by Michael Brown and Patricia Smith. The slam first started at T.T. the Bear’s in Central Square in Cambridge, Mass., as an add-on to the existing reading Stone Soup, the longest-running poetry reading in Cambridge. The slam migrated to the Book Cellar in Porter Square later that year, and, in January of 1992, expanded to a twice-weekly schedule in order to accommodate the burgeoning popularity of the event. When the Cantab Lounge became one of seven hosts for the October 1992 International Poetry Slam, the Wednesday show settled into its since-permanent location, making the Cantab home to one of the three oldest slams in the world and a fixture of the international poetry scene.

2 – SlamCharlotte, Charlotte, NC

Slam Master: Boris “Bluz” Rogers
Charlotte is the host city for this year’s NPS and SlamCharlotte is the home slam.

SlamCharlotte is a nationally recognized poetry slam located in Charlotte, NC. SlamCharlotte (formerly Queen City Soul Slam) was born under the vision and direction of Terry Creech. The slam started at the African-American Cultural Center in 2003. Through Creech’s desire for continued growth, the partnership between SlamCharlotte and the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s Education Institute was formed.  SlamCharlotte’s current slammaster, Bluz, was the 13th ranked individual poet in the world in 2007.

3 – Piedmont Poetry Slam, Peidmont, NC

Slam Master: Robert Moyer

The Piedmont Spoken & Literary Arts Movement or Piedmont SLAM was organized in 2009 and is the descendant of the venerable Winston-Salem Poetry Slam Team founded in 1992 making it the longest running slam team in North Carolina. Piedmont SLAM is committed to promoting the performance of spoken word, giving voice to the diversity of our community through literary arts events, workshops and seminars. The Winston-Salem Poetry Slam/Piedmont SLAM was one of the early members of the official organization: The National Poetry Slam and was one of the original poetry slams in the United States. During its existence Winston-Salem Poetry Slam/Piedmont SLAM has placed as high as 5th in the national competition.

4 – Toronto Poetry Slam, Toronto, ON

Slam Master: David Silverberg

Toronto Poetry Slam is a twice-monthly spoken word competition, where the judges vote on each poem presented. This ain’t your grandma’s poetry; TPS is all about ideas, with one in particular: people sharing poetry for everyone to enjoy. You’ll hear pure honesty poured onto the stage, wrapped in an entertaining performance style you won’t see anywhere else. Best of all, anyone can slam! Just show up to sign up for 730pm sharp. Judges from the audience score each poem between 0 and 10, basing their scores on both content n’ performance. 12 poets are in the first round, then it’s whittled down to 6, and the a final 3 poets battle it out in the final round. Winners get $80 and a bye into the semis. Poets can also get points towards making the Toronto Poetry Slam Team.

5 – Inkwell Poetry Slam, Fort Worth, TX

Slam Master: Duane Madden

The Inkwell Poetry Slam is a progressive, free speech arena where the arts of spoken word and performance poetry can flourish through the sharing of talent, ideas and energy. We are an entity of enlightenment and empowerment; not a place – but a movement. All are welcome.

6 – Lizard Lounge, Boston, MA

Slam Master: Jeff Robinson
The other poetry slam in Boston takes place at the Lizard Lounge each and every Sunday.

The Lizard Lounge Poetry Jam – Every Sunday with a Poetry Slam co-hosted by Joyce Cunha and Jeff Robinson starting at 7:30pm and a Featured Poet and Open Mic accompanied by the Jeff Robinson Trio starting at 9:00pm – there’s a $5 cover and you must be 21 to enter the venue – Sultry red lights, intimate tables, and wooden church pews give this small room one of the best ambiances in town.

7 – Jambalaya Soul Slam, Durham, NC

Slam Master: Dasan Ahanu

The Jambalaya Soul Slam was started in 2002 by Dasan Ahanu and Ray Gorham. It moved to the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham in 2005 and has been supported by the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation ever since. Each month the slam brings together the best poets in the area to compete for a cash prize and an invitation to Grand Slam Finals where the Bull City Slam Team (BCST) is picked.  The Jambalaya Soul Slam also has featured some of the best poets in the country each month. In 2009, the organizers of the slam hosted the Southeastern Regional Poetry Slam in Durham, NC. Named Southern Fried, it is the largest regional competition in the country.

8 – Dallas Poetry Slam, Dallas, TX

Slam Master: Roderick “Rock Baby” Goudy

Founded in 1994 by Clebo Rainey and his wife Naomi, Dallas Poetry Slam is the oldest and most respected Poetry Slam in the Metroplex.

Dallas Poetry Slam is a non-profit organization that promotes the performance and creation of poetry while cultivating literary activities and spoken word events in order to build audience participation, stimulate creativity, awaken minds, foster education, inspire mentoring, encourage artistic statements and engage the DFW community in the revelry of language.

Additionally, Dallas Poetry Slam provides an opportunity for local poets to compete as an individual and with a team on the local, regional and national level. Poets are exposed to art, language and culture from a network of poets and the general population in various cities throughout the United States. As a member of the Dallas Slam Team, one can develop team building, leadership, writing and performance skills along with greater pride as an artist representing the City of Dallas.

9 – Pierced Ear Poetry Slam, Stockton, CA

Slam Master: Anthony Gonsalves

“Pierced Ear Poetry” features the country’s best and brightest poetic talents every third Thursday at the Plea For Peace Center with house band (and up-and-coming local musical talent)Sugar Water Purple

10 – HawaiiSlam, Honolulu, HI

Slam Master: Kealoha

HawaiiSlam, a non-profit organization dedicated to showcasing poets from the islands and running the nationally certified First Thursdays slam poetry competition.  Founded and hosted by Kealoha (the Poet Laureate of Hawai`i), First Thursdays is the largest registered poetry slam in the world (with 500+ in attendance).

I’ll be back next week with more of the slam teams that will be challenging Team Nitty Gritty at NPS. In the mean time, I hope to see many of you next Tuesday at Valentine’s for Nitty Gritty Slam #20 where we will be getting the alternated lined up.