The 19th annual Southern Fried Poetry Slam 2011 brought the verbal heat to Atlanta this weekend. The Castbleberry Hill district was on fire with the baddest poets from across the south. This is the largest poetry slam in the south and Atlanta was honored to be the host city this year for the first time ever! To put it all into perspective, think of it this event like the “Olympics” of poetry. Everyone deserved a medal.
Thirty-six teams and eighteen independent poets, who are called indies, traveled to Atlanta to compete for the slam champion crown! And it was well worth the trip, because there was over 7,500 dollars in cash and prizes to claim in exchange for verbal talent. And guess what the prizes were? Moon pies and RC colas! It is a southern fried tradition, but one of the organizers, Queen Sheba is calling for a change for the 20th annual slam and suggests they use snickers to replace the moon pies. Sheba, Sheba, the rule breaker. 🙂
So, here is how it worked. A little slam education: In order to qualify for the finals, the teams and individual poets had to compete in at least three bouts from June 8th to June 10th. The four teams and the four indies with the highest overall score went on to the finals. The four teams with the highest scores were Chaos Theory, Sacred Sounds, Slam Charlotte and Java Monkey. The four indie poets were Bluz, Cuban, Reggie and G.
With such an intense competition, there were other activities on the agenda for the poets and other participants to do so they could relax and enjoy. They could choose from a long list of fun activities like a cookout, workshops, community service, Zumba, yoga, morning jogs, and late night open mics. This was truly more than an event; it was an experience!
Okay, I won’t make you wait any longer! The Saturday night battle was bananas, and the atmosphere was charged with so much positive and intellectual energy. I could feel it the moment I walked into the room. The ballroom was packed from wall to wall, and there was only standing room, all for the love of poetry! I have never seen anything like it! The poet’s words owned the room and for that moment, it was you, the poets and the stage. Everybody else disappeared. All the poets poured their hearts and souls onto the stage. You could feel their words, their pain, their fear, their happiness and their joy as the ink from their pen came to life. I am so serious when I say that I literally experienced every emotion humanly possible that night! And then, just like that, we were down to the final two poems. The battle was intense until the very end and then it was over! The winners were announced. The 2011 team slam champions are Java Monkey from Atlanta, Georgia and the indie poet winner is, G (George Ya Mazawa) from Durham, NorthCarolina. Congrats to all the poets, it was well deserved!
My final thoughts: This event was very well organized, and well thought out. It takes a lot to be able to handle such an event of this magnitude and the Atlanta team pulled it off. They were very professional, as well as all the volunteers. Shouts out to the Atlanta organizers; Queen Sheba, Dorian (Paul D) Rogers, Akinbiyi (Shadow) Sawyer, Walter (Wally B) Jennings and Keith (Keboi) Rodgers, founder of Black on Black Rhyme. Job well done, my friends!
The next annual Southern Fried Poetry Slam will be held in Tampa, Florida next year. Tampa will have big shoes to fill, but I am confident the torch of excellence will be passed on. I give this event 4 ½ stilettos!
Also, look out for my exclusive interviews with some of the teams! Follow me on twitter @tmonet and @aspireonline!
See photos of the entire event at southernfriedpoetryslam.com.
-T. Monet is Special Correspondent for AOM and The “HIGH UP”.