One two, check. The microphone cracks as third year emcee, Denise Jolly, abandons any attempt to use it and shouts into the crowd for two more judges to come forward, preferably unbiased people who “aren’t either friends with or fucking” the slam poets. Sierra Nevada College’s Patterson Hall is packed with students, locals, and contestants all anxiously awaiting the seventh annual Tahoe Slam Poetry Competition to begin.
This year’s event took place at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 26, in front of the largest crowd to date. Usually 10 poets compete for the $300 first place prize, $200 second and $100 third, but with such an extensive showing at the 6:30 p.m. sign-up, 15 poets were allowed to perform. The first two readers are “sacrificial poets,” who provide the five judges a basis for their 1-10 scores.
“Ten meaning that’s the best poem you could have ever heard, ever in life, ever,” explains Jolly to the judges. “It’s a fucking golden rainbow shouting through the stars. That shit better be the most epic thing you’ve ever heard. Anyway, please consider content performance and originality, and that does mean writing.”
The poets ranged from first-time contestants to experienced slammers and previous winners. In-between performances, Jolly stated that it was the most age varying reading she’s ever hosted. The topics were no different, ranging from politics to personal experiences to nature.
Senior Matt Eberle said, “I think there’s been an interesting diversity of voices.”
Obvious crowd favorites were SNC students Emily Provencher, Spencer Fish, Tucker Cannon-Reese, Henry Rivera, and Courtney Berti.
First time slam poetry attendee, Senior Myles Beck, quoted Provencher’s “I punched a woman in the face for an ice cream cone” as one of his favorite lines of the evening. Beck added, “I enjoyed the poet who spoke in several languages, it added a new element.”
In the end, first place went to Modesto, Calif. native and reining champion Do Dirty. Second place was snagged by the brutally introspective Elisa Garcia. And third place came down to an unusual tie between Cannen-Reese and Brianna Sage.
Regardless of the outcome, Jolly said several times over the course of the night that “the point is not the point, the point is the poetry.”