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SNC celebrates poetry month with spoken word weekend

Sierra Nevada College is preparing for a literary weekend during Poetry month.

Four-time National Poetry Slam champion and National Poetry Series winner, Patricia Smith, will be conducting a Writer’s in the Woods workshop from 2-5 p.m. followed by a reading from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 in the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences.

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The night prior, the Seventh Annual Tahoe Slam Poetry Competition presented by SNC will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 26 in Patterson Hall. The evening’s emcee will be crowd favorite, Denise Jolly, a veteran slammer and the 2009 San Francisco Grand Slam Champion. ten poets will compete for the title of Tahoe Slam Champion of the Year and the $300 first place prize. There will also be a $200 second place and $100 third place prize.

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Sign-ups are on a first-come first-serve basis beginning at 6:30 p.m. the night of the event.  Each poet will be given three minutes from their first utterance, and are rated on a 1-10 scale by five randomly selected judges dispersed throughout the audience.

Slam poetry is a form of spoken word and “the competitive art of performance poetry,” according to “It puts a dual emphasis on writing and performance, encouraging poets to focus on what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.”

Established at the Chicago Get Me High lounge in 1984 by Marc Smith, a poet and construction worker looking to add a new element to the literary scene, it became a weekly competition at the Green Mill jazz club by 1986. On July 25 that year the competition became known as the Uptown Poetry Slam, which still runs every Sunday night to this day.

The basic rules surrounding a slam include original poetry by the performer, a three minute time slot in which to speak, a deduction of points for going over the time frame, and a score by five judges with the highest and lowest dropped for a 0-30 point possibility. Every performer reads during the initial round, with scores dictating the subsequent poets.

The Tahoe Slam Poetry Competition is notably a well-attended event by both students and the community.
The crowd last year was “quite intense and welcoming,” said Junior Bryce Bullins. “It’s great to see so many people coming out to support poetry and the arts in general.”

Junior Amanda Nutting said, “I love how enthusiastic the performers are, passionate in how they present their work, it’s magic.”

Be sure to arrive early for both the poetry slam and Smith’s workshop and reading, as seats will fill up fast. For those who can’t make Smith’s events, she will be teaching undergraduate courses as the Distinguished Writer in Residence for the 2013-2014 academic year, look for her under the name DeSilva in the course catalog.

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