Poets old and new filled Student Union 100 on Tuesday, Sept. 25, for the first preliminary slam in hopes of securing a spot on the SUNY New Paltz Slam Team.
The slam was the first of two that will take place before the Grand Slam on Friday, Nov. 9.
Co-captain Ben Golden said the first preliminary slam of the semester was comprised of some former teammates, but mostly new prospects. After feeling like there was a lapse in leadership last year, he said he believes this is the team’s “first year in an upswing.”
“We’ve got a real talented group,” Golden said.
Golden’s personal goals for the team include developing a tight-knit group of people, restoring the team back to its former status of being well-regarded on campus and doing well at nationals.
The four students who moved onto the Grand Slam were Golden, Brittany Patane, Aaron Tremper and James Warren.
“The fact that I made it to the Grand Slam is still unreal to me,” Patane said. “It’s like a boxing match between nerves and excitement. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Patane said she has already started thinking about what poems she will perform at the Grand Slam. She said she doesn’t know whether to perform poems she’s slammed before or new ones she’s still working on.
“It’s definitely up in the air at the moment,” she said. “The only guarantee is that it’s going to be something I’m comfortable with because when you get up there you really have to be able to get into the poem.”
Warren said this will be his fourth year trying out for the team. He said he tied and lost during the sudden-death slam in both his second and third years trying out, and hopes his efforts will pay off in his senior year.
“The best poets don’t always win a slam,” Warren said. “It takes a blend of writing and performing. You could be the best writer in a room and not have a real stage presence and get blown away.”
Warren said he attends many slams in New York City, as well as other universities and cities.
“I don’t go to poetry slams to compete,” he said. “I go to enjoy the company of other writers.”
For those hoping to join the team, Golden said they should “keep their consumption of other people’s poetry up,” while also attending slams, writing poetry and practicing until they find a few poems they are comfortable and confident performing.
The Slam Team will hold their second preliminary slam on Friday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. in SU 100.