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Arts and Entertainment

Fine rhymes: Troupe earns first spoken-word title since 2008
Slam Charlotte takes third national championship
 
Published Thursday, September 6, 2018 12:35 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

COURTESY SLAM CHARLOTTE
Slam Charlotte members show off their trophies after winning the 2018 National Poetry Slam in Chicago. The Charlotte troupe has earned three national championships in the last 12 years.

Slam Charlotte has another national championship.


Seventy-two teams competed last month in the 2018 National Poetry Slam in Chicago, where Slam Charlotte earned its third victory. Their previous wins: 2007 and 2008.


“It’s still surreal,” said Slam Charlotte Artistic Director Inkera Oshun. “We are all still soaking it all in. We had two rookies on our team this year who had never been to a National Poetry Slam. It was an amazing summer working with them.”


April, which is National Poetry Month, is also the month in which the Slam Charlotte team is assembled.


“We have a monthly show at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center,” Oshun said. “Every month, the top four poets earn points toward our finals in April. We invite the top 12 scoring poets back to our final stage. The top five poets become the team that will go to regional and national competition.”


Regional competition takes place in June, followed by the National Poetry Slam.


“The practice really depends on the team,” Oshun said. “From forming the team in April up until probably mid-July, they normally practice two times a week. The closer it gets to nationals, their practicing goes to three, four times a week. They practice four, sometimes five hours.”


Practice entails not only writing, but memorization and other aspects of performance rehearsals.


“Once you write the poem, you have to memorize it,” Oshun said. “You have to put movement to it. In order to be synchronized, in order to be as perfect as perfect can go, it’s a lot of time and practice. It’s a lot of sacrifice. The team gave up the majority of their summer in order to go to practice. They sacrificed being away from home for the seven days that we were in Chicago. It definitely takes a lot of dedicated time and sacrifice.”


Rookies Kia Flow and Jordan Bailey comprised Slam Charlotte’s 15th team, along with Jay Ward, Breeze and Jahbu. Bluz still serves as slammaster.


“We don’t write for a particular scene,” Oshun said. “For any audience that may hear our work, we hope it will speak to someone.”


Oshun is interim executive director of Poetry Slam Inc.


“It’s a short-term assignment,” Oshun said. “I’ve loved this poetry community and loved Poetry Slam Inc. for half of my life. Just being there with them, and being able to witness them being celebrated by all their peers was a great experience.”  

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