Boston MA - On Saturday, August 13th, 2011, at the fabulous Berklee Performance Center, the Slam Nuba slam team of poets from Denver took the big trophy from the three other top finalists from Providence, RI, New York City and Columbus, OH. These four finalists emerged from a field of 76 competitors who competed in bouts held in several standing-room only venues in Cambridge and Boston over the course of the week, beginning on Tuesday evening. The buzz in the crowd was that this National Poetry Slam was the best attended ever, as every venue was not only filled, but felt the pressure of long lines of folks left over, waiting their turn to get in.
When I arrived at the finals two hours before showtime, tickets were already sold out.
The finals, like every other slam, were judged by audience members chosen at random that night, reinforcing slam’s fundamental philosophy: “It’s not about the points, it’s about the poetry.” The volume of emotion flowing from the stage was like a river. All though the week, emotion flowed from every stage at every venue. NPS2011 was a colossal, week-long flood of poetically expressed emotion. Were it not for the random criteria of the judges and the equalizing system of points calculation, there would have been no possible way to judge these startlingly talented poets fairly. This is the genius of slam.
Slam Nuba performed poetry primarily about the history of racial oppression and triumph over it. I saw them perform several times during the week, and every performance seemed almost flawless. Congratulations to Slam Nuba for their well deserved and hard-earned victory.
Next year NPS2012 will be in Charlotte. Judging from this years finals, they’d better find some bigger venues. If the creek don’t rise, I’ll see you there.