Slam is a Feast, Poetry is Served

renowned slam poet Jeanann Verlee
renowned slam poet Jeanann Verlee

SUNY New Paltz played host to the Regional Poetry Slam this past Saturday, Feb. 5. Along with the New Paltz team, emerging in fourth place, slammers came from Wesleyan, SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Geneseo to compete.

The slam opened with a performance by renowned Slam Poet Jeanann Verlee, who presented from her published works. Last year, Verlee released her first book through Write Bloody Publishing, titled “Racing Hummingbirds,” and has since earned the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal in Poetry.

Verlee said that though she has new material, she’s planning to take her time before releasing another full manuscript. However, readers should look for her new chapbook “Calliope” at the end of the month.

The Master of Ceremonies for the night was Ian Khadan, a veteran slam poet and coach from New Jersey.

According to Khadan, what is important to note for non-slammers and writers alike when they take to their first poetry slam is that although slam is a very explosive, engaging and often accessible art form in the moment, there’s a lot of work that goes into the writing and performance of a poem.

Khadan said the featured poet, Jeanann Verlee, drew attention to the virtues of the art.

“You have to be in awe of what she’s doing on the stage,” Khadan said, “it’s because she spends so much time carefully crafting every one of those minutes.”

Each of the four teams sent up scores of writers and performers who held their hearts out to the randomly selected judges. Each judge would give the poem a performance score between one and 10 and the team with the greatest number of points ended up victorious.

At the end of the night, the all women’s team from SUNY Oneonta took first, followed by Wesleyan in second, SUNY Geneseo taking third and SUNY New Paltz in fourth.