Poetry slams in a niche

Poetry slams in a niche

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Alex Hatter, Boise State alumnus, waits on the blue-lit stage for the rock music to fade and then addresses the audience, “Poetry slams were invented in the 1980’s by a construction worker named Mark Smith.” The audience shouts “Who cares?!” Hatter laughs, continues welcoming the group to Poetry Slam deLux then proceeds to serve as the “sacrificial poet” to kick off the poetry performances.

Critiqued on a scale of one to ten, seven competitors evoked polarizing judges’ scores with poems concerning matters of the heart, Toys R Us, music in Hell and slices of life.

Scores decide whether performers have the opportunity to attend the National Poetry Slam or move up to the Grand Slam event. Past and present Boise State students were in attendance, performed on stage or sat back with drink in hand.

“I come to get my fill of good performance art,”said  Jessica McCafferty, public administration graduate student. “I feel like I’m in a good spot to hear local artists doing something they love and it’s always different. There’s always something funny and there’s always something sad and it’s always good.”

McCafferty said she particularly enjoys poets that take a mundane situation and turn it into a funny poem. Poetry Slam deLux is managed by Hatter and Lexy Leahy, who got involved after taking a poetry class with former professor Isaac Rambo.

After watching, competing and getting to know people in the group, Leahy said she enjoys what these poets have to offer.

“I like when they go off page and they get really into it,” Leahy said. “They’re really emotional and I think that’s really cool to watch. For performing, it’s fun to push the limits and see what you can do.”

Initially just in it for the extra credit, Leahy said she was surprised at her desire to continue attending and participating in poetry slams, including performing a poem about her challenge with public speaking.

“When I first heard about it, it seemed intimidating and honestly I didn’t think I would like poetry slams but they’re very interesting, they’re fun,” Leahy said. “It’s not just people sitting around reading boring poetry. People are up onstage performing. It’s a good atmosphere. People are very accepting and I encourage anyone who’s written anything at all to come perform.”

Leahy said despite the close-knit familiarity of most of the poets and listeners, new poets come in and are always welcome.

Leahy said she encourages anyone interested to attend Slam of Steel (for those under 21) and/or Poetry Slam deLux (for those 21 and up).

“You won’t have a bad experience,” Leahy said. “Anyone can fit in. You just get up there, do your best and whether you’re reading off page or you have it memorized, you’re good.”