This is Myles, dropping in with an update about our 2024 slam season! Qualifiers for this season have completed, and team selection is underway to appoint our 2024 Boston Poetry Slam team. If you are looking for last Wednesday’s recap by Amy, it’s right below this post!
Last year’s slam season had significantly less buy-in, and I scheduled monthly qualifying slams throughout this season to meet what I thought was a low demand. I was blown away this year by the number of poets getting invested in slam, many of which are brand new to the sport. I say this to make it clear that not every poet who rocked the house with their work throughout our slam season managed to snag one of these few coveted spots. At the start of the 2024-2025 slam season, I will be continuing monthly qualifier slams, and then increasing their number to every other Wednesday as we get closer to team selection. Hopefully this will result in a 2025 team selection as robust and exciting as the selections of yore, which involved two preliminaries, a semis, and a finals!
The final list of competitors have been divided up between two preliminary nights. February 28th and March 13th will be our two preliminary showdowns, with 7-8 poets competing across 2 rounds in each.
• SAC: Youssef
• Sara Hill
• Kaitie Dilán
• Eddy Martinez
• Brynna Boyd
• Kelsey Kessler
• Katya Zinn
• Logan Lopez
• Kris Cho
• SAC: Meredith Lakis
• Amy Argentar
• Aparna Paul
• March Penn
• Mary Schwabenland
• Kat Anderson
• Jennifer Martinez
• Keaton Howl
Huge congratulations to every person on this list for fighting through a strongly competitive pool of poets. Anyone who has attended a Boston Poetry Slam open mic or slam in the last few months knows what a talented line-up this is! I have no idea what will happen and I am frankly a little terrified by the pure power contained in this list!!!
The top five from the 02/28 preliminary and the top four from the 03/13 preliminary will advance to yet another 9-person, 2-round slam: team selections finals on March 27th. That means each poet in team selection will need four polished poems to make it to the end. Expect this to be one of the best poetry shows you have ever seen, and block your calendar off now to get there early for admission.
The top 5 from finals will constitute our team, which will represent us at NorthBeast, VOX POP, and other various regionals, competitions, and gigs as they may arise.
A quick note: you are not required to be on this team if you want to compete at the NorthBeast Regional! The regional will have the opportunity for pick-up teams this year, which is 4 or 5 poets who sign up to compete as an independent group.
Wait, so what is the deal with this team, then? Well, the Boston Poetry Slam has annually selected a team of poets representative of our venue since 1991. It is a tradition we take very seriously, and the poets who make our team are immortalized in our archives, joining the ranks of legendary poets like Patricia Smith, Shira Erlichman, Rachel McKibbens, Simone Beaubien, Omoizele Okoawo, and … me lol! (I got real lucky in 2017.) This team is coached, offered gigs and opportunities through the venue, and covered for any costs associated with competition.
The main point of the team was once to send it to the National Poetry Slam, which is exactly what it sounds like: the largest team-based poetry slam competition in the English-speaking world, where every registered slam in America and some from abroad would send a representative team to compete in one city for four days. Poetry Slam, Inc. and the National Poetry Slam went under in 2018, and the pandemic firmly sealed its fate. However, regionals have been popping up across the country in the last couple years, and a goal of the Boston Poetry Slam is to eventually be able to fly the team to competitions other than our local regionals to introduce our poets to more of the world of performance poetry. For now, though, the team is mostly ceremonial, and gets the honor of representing us locally. But keep coming, keep slamming, and maybe one day you’ll get the opportunity to go somewhere you’ve never been, to meet people you’ve never met, and perform for people who couldn’t have heard your work otherwise. Only time can tell.