National poetry slam champs to perform at Macalester

By Max Loos

They’re the best in the country, and they’ll be slamming here at Macalester.St. Paul’s national champion poetry slam team will be performing a showcase at Macalester today, laying down rhythm and soul in the concert hall in Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center.

The team, made up of poets Sierra DeMulter, Shane Hawley, Sam Cook, Khary Jackson and Guante, were crowned the national champions this summer at the National Poetry Slam, which was held in St. Paul. Each performance was given a score, and teams advanced tournament-style based on their totals.

It was the second year in a row that the St. Paul team took the top prize in the competition, which is held in a different city each year and features teams of poets that hail from cities all across the country.

The performance on Friday will be a showcase instead of a competition. Each poet will deliver about five poems.

Dylan Garrity ’12, co-founder of MacSlams, the org responsible for bringing the poetry team to Macalester and promoting the event, watched the team perform many times while he was working as an organizer with the National Poetry Slam this summer.

“They are some of the most talented writers that I have ever seen, and I’ve never seen them put on anything other than an incredible show,” Garrity said.

The show is free and open to all audiences. When the team performed in the finals at this summer’s National Poetry Slam, the show sold out the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul.

Garrity said that he hopes that the event will spur some new freshmen to check out MacSlams and slam poetry in general.

“If you haven’t seen it before, it will surprise you,” he said. “It is none of the stereotypes you would expect, especially with a group of this quality.”

Katie Campbell ’11 became a fan of the St. Paul slam poetry scene over the course of the past semester during an off-campus arts program. She also attended as many sessions of the National Poetry Slam as she could this summer.

“After having seen poets perform at the National Poetry Slam, I can tell you that the St. Paul team is exceptionally talented,” Campbell said. She has been planning around the event all week.

While the team will be performing at several other colleges, they will not be staying together forever. The poets plan to break off and go on solo tours at some point in the next few months, so this may be one of the last opportunities to see this particular team together on one stage.

The performance is funded through a combination of student org funds, and is partially paid for by Macalester’s English Department.

Garrity has no doubts about whether or not slam poetry is a worthwhile art.

“It’s a unique art form in the sense that it’s very, very much more about the audience than it is about the artists themselves,” he said. “In order to be successful in slam, a poet has to connect with the audience- It is about putting on a good show for the audience.