Collegiate poets duke it out in the ring

“I do this for poetry,” the mantra of Florida A&M’s own AijuswannaPOET poetry team, perfectly captured the atmosphere at the second annual Tallahassee collegiate poetry slam.

The competition, held at Florida State’s Oglesby Student Union, featured eight teams of five poets representing FSU, FAMU and the University of Florida.   

The judges included Keith Rodgers, CEO and founder of the Black on Black Rhyme poetry troupe, Athena Griffin, founder and president of the FAMU Hip-hop congress and Christine Fairbanks, founder of Poetic Lyricism.

Reigning champions, The Artistic Deliverers of Hostile Diction (ADHD), began with a poem touting their victory in last year’s inaugural slam. Poetically Mutilating Stupidity (PMS), another FSU poetry group, responded by denouncing the “typical poets,” a theme continued upon from a similar poem.

It was clear there was a rivalry between the teams as PMS went so far as to mention ADHD by name in their opening poem.

The teams representing FAMU included AijuswannaPOET (a play on the Musiq Soulchild album Aijuswanaseing), Juslisen and Say Word. All three teams were composed of members of VOICES, FAMU’s first spoken word poetry group.

The winner was ADHD taking first place, PMS taking second and AijustwannaPOET in third. These were the same three teams that held the top three spots in last year’s slam.

The top three teams received a cash prize. First place received $250, second place $150 and third $50.

Teams spoke on subjects including childhood, environmentalism, sexuality, human trafficking and even preparation for the slam itself.

“I loved it last year and I couldn’t wait for the next one,” said Sasha Nelson, 19, an FSU biology student. “There were a lot more people this year.”

More than 700 people filled the Florida ballrooms.

The slam was set up in dual elimination format, with two teams eliminated based on scores ranging from 1-10 by the judges. One change made from last year is the lack of audience participation in the judging process.

The contest was sponsored by the FSU Caribbean Student Association, FSU section of NAACP, FAMU Hip-hop congress and FSU chapter of Progressive Black Men, Inc.