Mac slams to success – poets take third at nationals

By Daniel Kerwin

Macalester’s poetry slam organization, Mac Slams, has been around for just over a year, but it is coming of age at a rapid rate.Dylan Garity ’12 and Neil Hilborn ’11 founded Mac Slams last February, and both were members of a team of four Macalester students that tied for third at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational April 7-10 at Emerson College in Boston.

This was the first year Macalester has sent a team to the competition, and by placing so highly in a field of 35 total colleges the team surpassed its expectations.

“We didn’t expect to do very well, and certainly not as well as we did,” team member Colin Welch ’10 said. “It was a really great surprise, and a wonderful and worthwhile experience.”

The fourth and final member of Macalester’s team at the Invitational was Barb Walkowiak ’13.

Macalester won its semi-final, sending the team to the Championship Finals, staged front of a sold-out audience of 1,200 in a theater in downtown Boston. The University of Wisconsin-Madison was the eventual winner, with Macalester sharing third place with the University of Minnesota.

“After the semifinals we were gunning for first because we thought we could get it, but the judges just didn’t like the stuff we were doing” Garity said.

Hilborn received additional honors, winning the prize for Best Persona Piece for his poem “Carver,” which is about cannibalism.

“I performed a poem about cannibalism in front of 1,200 people,” Hilborn said. “I’m basically not scared of anything anymore.”

The tie for third with the University of Minnesota was fitting because both teams have become close after performing at slams together in the past. On March 6 the teams had a one-on-one battle, with the U of M coming out on top on that occasion.

The team’s success is due in part to the coaching of Sierra Demulder, who was a member of St. Paul’s championship team in last year’s National Poetry Slam.

Mac Slam’s last slam of the semester will be May 7 at 8 p.m. in 10K.