Allowing yourself to live within the poetry you are experiencing

IMG_1069In total, 68 Universities sent a team this year to compete in Richmond, Virginia, including as far away as Ryerson University in Toronto, making this year the first international CUPSI event. It’s the largest of its kind, and the talent shows. These are the best of the best. We are privileged to be among their ranks.

Slam poetry is a strange art form. In a lot of ways, it’s profoundly masochistic. There is an element of literary self-flagellation involved in performing a piece that can be so intensely personal. As poets, there is a fine line to walk between performative re-enactment of trauma for competition scores and the actual, more transformative work of vocal testimony before an audience. CUPSI, by virtue of being a competitive format, forces us to examine this distinction with every piece we bring to the stage.

To that end, there is something magic that happens when poets congregate. There is a palpable energy in the air, a buzzing feeling. This energy sometimes becomes tension, sometimes becomes creativity. Going to Richmond for this event was more than just for poetry, or for scores. In a way, it was for all of us to make connection. Not just with other poets, but with the words themselves. It’s easy to get lost in the competition at large slam events like CUPSI. Allowing yourself to live within the poetry you are experiencing, instead of comparing yourself and your work to those around you, brings about a deeper sense of self-fulfillment.

During our time at the event, we connected with the work. Not just the work of others, but our work- our words. We gave our all in performance, and we began to form networks with other teams in the region and beyond. CUPSI is a powerful event. It’s something that can’t quite be replicated in other forms, as the true wonder of the gathering is in the multitude of different persons and backgrounds that take part. With your help, and with the help of all the backers, donations, and silent supporters, we’ve been able to take part in this opportunity. The entire team is grateful for those who have supported us through this journey, and we will carry those words and support with us through the following months, and years.

-Dante Douglas

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