The Glenn Miller Ballroom in the UMC was transformed into a sultry poetry club scene filled with dining tables, a buffet and purple and black décor.
Slow-paced music was playing upon entrance, and the room slowly reached to capacity as 600 people poured in.
The art of slam poetry was created in 1981 by Mark Smith who wanted to “take open mic night back” and create an event that would allow the audience to have the opportunity to participate in the show.
A poetry slam is a poetry competition where poets put together poems and are given three minutes to perform their first poem. After every poet performs, five randomly selected audience members give the poet a score from one to 10, one meaning the performance was awful and 10 meaning the poet did an amazing job.
“I saw the effect it [slam poetry] had on people and it inspired me to try it myself,” said Tyler Schelpat, a 19-year-old sophomore MCD biology major and poet.
The poetry slam was hosted by Program Council and sponsored by The Herd, the CU Bookstore, the Dennis Small Cultural Center, the Audiovisual Club and the CU Independent.
To participate in the slam, students had to audition. This year, 26 students auditioned and 13 made the final cut from CU Boulder, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Regis University.
“This is the first year we’ve held open auditions and limited the playing field,” said Evan Matt, a 22-year-old senior broadcast major and promotions director for Program Council.
After the 13 poets presented their first poem, scores were compared and the top six scoring poets make it to the next round. The last round consisted of the three highest scoring performers from the second round. These three participants were then ranked in first, second and third place to receive prizes. The audience is supposed to either boo or cheer the scores produced to try and sway the voting.
“It’s amazing to hear what they [the poets] have to say,” said Daniel Paiz, a 19-year-old sophomore international affairs major. “I like the wide spectrum of poems. It’s just dope.”
The audience was very involved with multiple shouts and eruptions of applause.
The first place winner received a Japango gift card, two tickets to Lupe Fiasco, a Colorado Baggage gift card, prizes from the CU Bookstore and The Herd and a journal from the bookstore.
The poetry performances were rhythmic and theatrical; poets used everything from beat boxing to singing to fade outs, and the use of body language was spectacular.
“The thing that inspires me the most are things I don’t understand,” Schelpat said. “I write a poem to help me understand.”
Contestants preformed poems about everyday life, drugs, alcohol, politics, law and abuse.
“I like the passion and the means of how easy it is to express myself,” said Patrick O’Brien, a 19-year-old freshman applied mathematics major and poet. “It’s a direct address to a lot of core feelings.”
Slam poetry is a unique and interesting experience. The slam is a chance for students to express themselves in an unconventional and public way. Students should take advantage of this literary experience.
“Hopefully more people see it [the slam] and it grows larger statewide,” Paiz said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Nicole Zimbelman at Nicole.email@example.com.