Poetry in Motion: Inside the Slam Free or Die N.U.T.S. Tournament

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Mark Palos, aka The Colonel, was MC for the first half of Friday night's slam.
Mark Palos, aka The Colonel, was MC for the first half of Friday night\’s slam.

Milly’s Tavern was the place to be profound on Friday night.

The back room was filled with poets and their followers, assembled for the 2014 N.U.T.S. (NorthBeast Underground Team Slam) team championship tournament.

Unlike its two-dimensional counterpart, a “slam” is poetry in motion, an interactive experience as much about performance as it is about the written word.

There are rules.

Time keepers on the job during a poetry slam at Milly’s Tavern.

Each poet has just three minutes to work the crowd. A time-keeper will let the judges know if there is a penalty. Five random judges a chosen – they just can’t personally know the poets who are on deck to perform. Audience members are encouraged to “applaud the poet” or boo the judges.

Bias from the audience is always encouraged.

Ultimately, the poet receives an average of the five scores and is added to that team’s standings. On Friday night eight teams took turns going head-to-head by sending up their strongest poets, and the team with the most points wins.

In the end, Air Empathy – featuring poets Mckendy Fils-Aime, Kayla WheelerTim Hopkins, and Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib took home the $1,000 cash prize.

Emily Eastman
Emily Eastman

 Saturday night’s Individual Champion was Meaghan Ford.

The Slam Free or Die event was sponsored by Poetry Society of New Hampshire, and Milly’s Tavern, where weekly poetry slams happen every Thursday night.

You should probably go sometime, whether you are poetry savvy or just slam curious.

Be warned: Everything goes with slam poetry. It can frequent those darker, emotional places where life takes us. In getting there, the language goes there, too, from the profound to the profane.

That said, below are two of the featured poets from Friday night’s slam. Enjoy.


About Carol Robidoux 5783 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.