This Halloween, the Emerson Poetry Project is hosting a celebration like no other: a one-on-one poetry battle. The Spooky Slam, held October 31 at 8 p.m. in room 227 of the Little Building, is the perfect place for all poetry lovers to spend the holidays observing, admiring and performing spoken word.
The spooky celebration has been the hallmark of the EPP for as long as most of its members can remember. As it now falls on Halloween, EPP Chair Abbie Langmead has made an increased effort to make it a festive and fun space to celebrate.
“This year, it was really important for me to reinvent this staple and make it really fun and engaging and worthwhile, especially because it’s Halloween,” Langmead said.
In addition to the contest itself, all entrants are strongly encouraged to come in costume and participate in a costume contest.
The event will have two teams – Tricks versus Treats – and each member will write a slam poem based on a pre-assigned Halloween prompt. Judges will award winners for each round, tallying up points as they go. The winning team will receive a prize of full size candy bars.
As Langmead described it, a compelling aspect of the event is its ability to bring together old and new slam poetry contestants.
“Spooky Slam is a really good introductory event to the poetry slam scene,” Langmead said. “We had a lot of people say this would be their first poetry contest. [contest] in which they have already participated. We also have a lot of seasoned veterans, so I think it’s really fun.
It’s a sentiment shared by EPP treasurer Bryan Arellano, who is also a member of last year’s Spooky Slam winning team. He said the event is the perfect time for newcomers to explore the field of performance poetry.
“It’s totally entry-level,” he said. “If you have even a modicum of interest in being in front of people and reading something, I think it’s a really interesting opportunity. I would recommend people do it at least once, especially if you feel like get into the Halloween spirit.
Another welcoming aspect of Spooky Slam is its relaxed judging style which helps ease any nerves that may arise.
“You just have a one-on-one,” Arellano said. “The scoring system is at very, very low stakes.”
Although it can be intimidating to perform in front of a jury, EPP strives to ensure fair competition. For this particular event, the performance is judged less on technicality and more on the passion, emotion and spirit that is brought to the stage.
“I always say my favorite type of slam judge is someone who knows nothing about poetry, because then it’s all about how you feel, not the technical point of it all,” Langmead said. .
The event, however, is welcome for everyone – competitor, judge or otherwise.
“We always need members of the public,” Langmead said. “Poetry is not a silent art form or a theatrical performance. It’s a commitment and it’s a transaction between the performer and the audience.
Unlike other art forms, slam poetry is meant to be interacted with and felt by the audience. As Langmead explains, the role of the audience is often as imperative as that of the performers.
” You have to give [the performers] something, whether it’s making some noise for them after their performance, or shouting out a line you really like, or encouraging them to clap as they go to the very top,” Langmead said. “Things like that make a slam show what they are.”
The PPE board expects a strong turnout for the event, with 18 competitors, including 5 new to the organization. Members strongly encourage students to attend and experience all that slam poetry has to offer.
“It’s just about having fun,” Langmead said. “It’s an art form about expressing yourself freely, being yourself, owning your identity and gaining that self-confidence. It’s really about sharing joy and love , to share your art in a space of supportive and supportive people.