It’s smooth and sexy and goes down oh so easy. It’s possible to sit and imbibe its silkiness for hours on end in seductive club atmospheres. Letting it work its magic as you digest it, mmmm.
No, we’re not talking about a milkshake or martini, it’s spoken word poetry.
Sophomore theater major Kate Tenetko has been writing poetry since she was 12 years old and has churned out more works than she can even count. But this Saturday will be the first time she performs her poetry as spoken word for an audience – something she seems to approach with the casual nonchalantness of a more seasoned performer.
The Main Campus Program Board is hosting “The Next Rap,” a competition for poets and spoken word artists, with a $200 grand prize and a Tower Records gift bag for the winner.
The poetry slam is modeled after the competitions that Shari DeCastro, sophomore psychology major and organizer of the event, saw at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe this summer in New York in the East Village.
With three rounds, poets will be eliminated from the competition after each round of performances.
“I’m a spoken artist as well and I thought it would be cool to have this event,” Brielle Williams, MCPB Contemporary Music Co-Chair said. “There are open mic nights on campus as well, but they’re not well publicized. Shari presented this idea to me and we really pushed for it and publicized it.”
Originally the competitors were going to be narrowed down to 10 for the event, but Williams, senior communications and theater major, said she had more people apply than expected so there could be as many as 12 competing at Saturday’s event.
“We publicized it over several listservs and the Main Campus Program Board listserv and Facebook.”
Freshman Helen Massele feels both eager and nervous to share her poetry on Saturday. While the fiery poet has been writing since she was young, this will be her first poetry slam.
“Ever since I was little I’ve had a passion for writing and poems are different, they’re deeper,” said Massele, who is majoring in public health. “I think everyone is good at something and I think I’m good at writing and I’ve always been good at public speaking.”
On Tuesday night Massele raced through the words with passionate articulation, her emotion for the topics emphasized though gestures and intonation.
“[My performance] will be good,” Massele said, “because it’ll be from the heart.”
Sophomore Jacob Winterstein has a bit more experience than his competitors when it comes to competitions.
“In high school I did a lot of freestyle rapping, public speaking for an activist organization and a little bit of acting,” Winterstein said. “About a year and a half ago that all came together when I began to do spoken word.”
The geography and urban studies major has performed at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and won two rounds before losing in the semifinals. He will also be performing at the Red Bull Word Clash in Greensboro, N.C.
The Nuyorican Slam Team will open the competition with a performance and will perform again later in the night.
“The Nuyorican [Poetry Cafe] is pretty popular and it’s been around for years,” DeCastro said. “It was started by a New York Puerto Rican.”
The cafe was founded by Miguel Algarin in 1973. Initially the team met in his living room, but by 1980 it had moved to its present location in the East Village.
DeCastro expects a great audience turnout on Saturday with the well-known Nuyorican Slam Team performing and the popularity of spoken word. It’ll be hard to tell who will enjoy the poetry and rhymes more – the competitors or the audience.
“The Next Rap” will take place this Saturday at the Underground in the Student Center Annex at 10 p.m.
Josh Chamberlain can be reached at email@example.com.