Got something to say? Poetry may be a perfect outlet. The UC Davis Poetry Slam Team is holding auditions today at 7 p.m. in Griffin Lounge, located on the first floor of the Memorial Union.
For those who may be unfamiliar with slam poetry, it is “spoken word poetry that is conditioned for the competitive performance experience,” explained senior international relations major Elyssa White, president of Sickspits, another slam poetry group on-campus.
“It has its roots in the beat generation poets, the urban experience and the hip-hop movement,” White said in an e-mail interview.
The UC Davis Poetry Slam Team is composed of six members in total (four core members and two alternate members) who individually perform original works of poetry under three minutes long.
“The ultimate goal is to encourage audience interaction,” said junior Alex Gonzalez, who’s been on the team for the past two years. “Five audience members are randomly selected to judge each performance on a scale from one to 10– one being ‘you sucked you can go home‘ and 10 being ‘you just changed my life.‘”
The audition process will consist of two rounds of performances, and the top five scores will determine who is accepted on the Davis Slam Team.
The team has placed first at the regional poetry slam competition and fifth in the nation two years in a row. In addition to competing with other UC teams, the UCD team has traveled to Michigan, New Mexico and Texas.
So what makes slam poetry so unique?
“It’s a completely different style than page poetry,” Gonzalez pointed out. “Slam poetry requires a poet to be a good performer and a good writer.”
White said that “slam poetry is difficult because it traverses a thin line between a personal and public you.“
“Anyone who can write can slam,” she said. “Learning how to write honestly for a critical public, however, is a task that for many takes time to master.”
Generally, slam poets cover personal experiences within their own lives.
“I’ve found poetry slams to be an accessible and great platform to share ideas,” senior biochemistry and molecular biology major Ruby Ibarra said in an e-mail interview. “I also try to raise awareness by exploring topics that are rarely discussed, such as injustices in the Filipino and Asian-American community.”
Lexer Chou, program coordinator for Campus Unions and creator of the UCD Slam Team, expressed her support for the team
“I felt like Campus Unions needed to provide students with the opportunity to have their voices heard,” she said. “Most importantly [the poets] were a part of a community where they were able to learn from each other and be inspired by other peers.”
At this week’s auditions, Chou hopes “to see new faces and hear new voices.“
“Hopefully [they will] challenge us to think about things we’ve never thought about before,” she said.
Ibarra, a former member of the slam poetry team, shared a similar sentiment.
“I really encourage people to attend at least one poetry slam,” she said. “The pieces shared are always so diverse in content, but they will certainly leave you feeling inspired or empowered.”
For all the first-time slammers auditioning, White offered a final piece of advice.
“Bring your heart, energy, positivity, and spirit,” she said.
JULIA MCCANDLESS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.