Gearing up for the Super Bowl of poetry slams
To listen to Sharon Litwin's interview with Justin Lamb on WWNO-FM, click here.
There’s more than one kind of Super Bowl-type event coming up soon -- one that pits teams from around the country against one another.
No, it’s not a football game; nor is it basketball. This big-time final is an art event, but it’s competitive enough that it could be considered sport.
And here’s the thing: The New Orleans home team won the finals last year. And they’re gearing up to do it again, with the semi-finals taking place Saturday night, Jan. 12, followed by the finals two weeks later.
What is it? The Slam New Orleans Poetry Slam. Those chosen Saturday night will go on to compete in the finals Jan. 26. Those winners will make up Team SNO. And they will represent New Orleans at the National Poetry Slam in Boston later in the year.
Slam New Orleans – SNO -- has been a community organization for only the past two years. New Orleanian Akeem Martin, co-Slammaster and organizer, says its goal is the promotion of literacy and adults’ expression through spoken word poetry. Each year, SNO plans to organize a team of poets to represent New Orleans at various poetry slam competitions around the country.
They have already tasted success. In 2010, this fledgling group won second place in the Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam and then won the group place competition in the National Poetry Slam in St. Paul, Minnesota. Last year, the team again won second place at the Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam. But then they went one better. Going up against 72 teams from across the United States, SNO won the team competition at the National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., the highest achievement in poetry slam competition.
Justin Lamb, a Connecticut native and former Teach for America import who is Akeem Martin’s co-Slammaster, is eager to see the SNO team keep its title and is looking for a spirited competition on Saturday night.
“We have 15 semi-finalists,” Justin explains. “Five judges randomly selected from the audience are the ones who will decide who makes the finals.”
So whether you want to be on the team or to just be part of the action -- perhaps even a judge -- the place to be tis Saturday night is the Shadowbox Theater, 2400 St. Claude Ave. (504-298-8676). The fun starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $5.
Justin Lamb performs 'Tips for Climbing Barbed Wire' below:
Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.