Poetry team makes national competition; final selection poetry slam

Erika Larsen performing at a previous poetry slam, Jazzy Java Rock N Roll Grill, St. George, Utah, Oct. 11, 2013 | Photo by Darren Edwards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Every year, hundreds of poets from around the country converge in one American city in hopes of representing themselves and their hometowns on a national stage. While northern Utah’s presence, specifically Salt Lake City, has long been a staple at the National Poetry Slam, this will be the first year a team from Southern Utah will compete in the nation’s largest performance poetry competition.

This year’s competition will be held at the beginning of August in Oakland, California.

For the last seven months, more than a dozen of Southern Utah’s best performance poets have been competing in monthly poetry slams to earn points for a chance to make the St. George team. This chance will come at the Southern Utah Grand Slam: team selection finals this Friday, May 9.

The 10 poets who have earned the most points during the regular slam season will compete for one of the five spots on the St. George team. In addition, the poet who wins the Southern Utah Grand Slam will earn a spot to compete against 71 of the world’s top performance poets at this year’s Individual World Poetry Slam.

What is a poetry slam?

Poetry slams are very audience interactive. In fact, the five judges who score each poet’s performance are selected from the audience before each slam.  Having audience members, who often have little to no experience with poetry, serve as judges represents one of the central concepts of slam poetry: poetry is for everyone, not just scholars.

This also gives the community a chance to shape the team that will represent them at the National Poetry Slam. Picking the team isn’t left entirely up to the judges.  As audience members cheer for their favorite poems, they do so in an attempt to sway the judges, leaving their own mark on the team selection process.

Local poets

The group of 10 finalists who will compete in the first ever Southern Utah Grand Slam is made up of community members as well as Dixie State University faculty, alumni and current students. While the St. George team will be a “rookie” team this year, several of the 10 finalists have solid competition experience under their belts, having participated in competitions and performances from Seattle to Las Vegas.

The Southern Utah Grand Slam: team selection finals will be held at Jazzy’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Grill on Friday. The competition – which will be uncensored – will start at 8 p.m.

Event details

  • Where: Jazzy’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Grill, 285 N. Bluff St., St. George, Utah
  • When: Friday, May 9, 8 p.m.
  • Cost: $3 per person or $5 for two people | Jazzy’s generously donates all money made at the door to help send the St. George team to NPS


  • For more information about the St. George team or the the Southern Utah Grand Slam: team selection finals, please call Darren M. Edwards at 801-310-5369 or email him at [email protected]

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Submitted by Darren M. Edwards

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

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