Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Outside of Class: MacSlams

One of my favorite things to do outside of class here at Macalester is go to poetry slams, which are hosted by the student org MacSlams. The Mac Poetry Slam was started in 2009, and since then has been hosting monthly slams and open mics. The Macalester Poetry Slam team has gone to several competitions since it began, and last year actually ranked first nationally at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. So not only are these slams a fun place to gather with friends and fellow students, they are an opportunity to hear some of the best slam poetry in the country!

Macalester alum Neil Hilborn '11 performs "OCD" during the Finals of the 2011 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational.

The slams are held once a month on a Saturday night in the basement of Dupre, one of the dorms on campus. It is extremely exciting to pack into the room with other students eager to hear some awesome spoken word performances. I love that the slams are so well attended; it's great to know that so many students are excited about spending their Saturday night listening to poetry and celebrating the work and talents of students of the Twin Cities.

Each slam begins with an open mic where students can sign up to perform a poem, a piece of prose, or even sing a song. After that, there is a featured poet or poets who perform. These featured poets have ranged from other slam teams from schools in the Twin Cities to published poet Mindy Netifee and three-time National Poetry Slam finalist Rachel Mckibbens. After the feature comes the actual slam. During the slam, audience members volunteer to judge the poems, and after three rounds, those scores are tallied to determine the winner! The audience is always very involved during the slams; snapping when they hear a particularly beautiful or powerful verse, cheering when the judges give a high score, and passionately booing when a judge gives a low score. The vibe is energetic and attentive, and the audience is always encouraging. Even if someone forgets a line or stumbles a bit during a poem, the audience is quick to cheer the speaker on, yell out "You got this!" and alleviate any nervousness.

All in all, it is just a great time, and it is something that I look forward to every month.

- Ashley Mangan '14
Photos courtesy of MacSlams Facebook page