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2012 slam team

The 2012 Boston Poetry Slam Team. Back to front, left to right: Oz, Antonia, Kemi, Mckendy, and Melissa. Photo by Marshall Goff.

The 2012 Boston Poetry Slam Team. Back to front, left to right: Oz, Antonia, Kemi, Mckendy, and Melissa. Photo by Marshall Goff.

The 2012 Boston Poetry Slam Team was selected over a three-night, seven poem series (Preliminaries, Semi-Finals, and Finals), completing on April 25, 2012. The team identifies as three-fifths female, three-fifths black, and three-fifths African, which statistics produce a visually interesting and non-exclusive Venn diagram. They represented the venue at the 2012 National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Kemi Alabi, competing in Prelims, explains the concept of the American Slut. Photo by Marshall Goff.

Kemi Alabi, competing in Prelims, explains the concept of the American Slut. Photo by Marshall Goff.

The top scorer in team competition was Kemi Alabi, a writer and performer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin pursing a joint degree in Philosophy & Political Science from Boston University. She has served a two-year tenure there as president of the spoken word collective Speak for Yourself, producing dozens of events while facilitating weekly writing and performance workshops. Kemi competed with BU’s first (and, as of this writing, only) slam team, representing the university at CUPSI 2010. Since then, she’s performed in colleges, museums, poetry clubs, theaters, and protests throughout New England and been featured at TedxBoston, all while occasionally flying home to teach creative writing at her high school alma mater. 2012 was her first year competing at the National Poetry Slam.

Boston University is well-represented this year, including Antonia Lassar, who started performing her poetry four years ago with BU’s spoken word group Speak For Yourself. Antonia has just completed her BFA in Theatre Arts: miraculously, this means she can finally call herself a full time artist! Antonia has already toured the United States and South Africa performing her work: one of her favorite experiences at BU was performing her one-woman-show, The God Box, and she is excited to keep making new theatre. Most importantly, Antonia is unbelievably grateful to be a part of a vital community of artists, and cannot wait to leap in further. This was also be her first year at NPS.

Oz and Mckendy work out the blocking for their Jordan Rising/Raindrops Falling group piece. Photo by Marshall Goff.

Oz and Mckendy work out the blocking for their Jordan Rising/Raindrops Falling group piece. Photo by Marshall Goff.

The team’s senior NPS veteran is Omoizele Okoawo, who will represent the venue at NPS this year for the fifth time. An integral member of the New England slam scene, Oz was the co-founder and one-time coach for the Boston Poetry Slam’s cross-town rivals/sister slam at the Lizard Lounge. He competed as an NPS individual Finalist in 2007 and a team Finalist in 2008. He is most frequently found in the darkest corner of the bar.

Mckendy Fils-Aimé is the only member of the 2012 Boston Slam Team who also represented the venue in 2011. Mckendy commutes from his home scene in Manchester, New Hampshire, to work with and for the Boston Poetry Slam; he also won the right to represent the venue at the 2012 Individual World Poetry Slam this October in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This team marks his fifth competing at the National Poetry Slam.

Melissa Newman-Evans rounds out the trio of rookies on the team. A graduate from Emerson College, she has been waiting tables at the Cantab Lounge for three years and designing books for poets in the slam community for at least a year more than that. She has headlined shows around the northeast, including Brandeis University, Emerson College, Sarah Lawrence University, and the Providence Poetry Slam, and she worked as part of the Host City Committee for the wildly successful 2011 National Poetry Slam in Boston and Cambridge. Like her predecessor behind the bar at the Cantab, she believes that if you wanted a tonic and gin, you should have ordered it that way.


The 2012 Boston Poetry Slam Team was coached by SlamMaster Simone Beaubien. At the National Poetry Slam, the team was undefeated in preliminary competition and entered semi-finals with a ranking at the top of the field. They were eliminated in the semi-final round by Inkwell Poetry Slam and Slam New Orleans (the eventual champions), tying for third with the Denver-Mercury Slam and finishing with a final rank between 9th and 13th of the 72 teams in attendance. Mckendy Fils-Aimé represented the team at NUPIC and was crowned runner-up.

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