Verses, Boone’s only competitive student poetry slam team, competed in the Collegiate University Poetry Slam Invitational in Richmond, Virginia March 25 and won “Best Love Poem” for an original poem written and performed by two Appalachian State University students.
Sophomore nursing and Spanish major Kip McMillan and senior English major Jenna Calamai performed “Spanglish,” which McMillan primarily wrote over several months, finishing about three weeks ago. The CUPSI slam was Verses’ first national poetry competition. As a whole, the team did not place in the competition.
A select number of participants are selected to read their work at the national collegiate slam level. Of Verses, McMillan, Calamai, senior English major Shane “Kermit” Margeson and sophomore English major Barry Jones were given the opportunity to read their poems.
In anticipation of the CUPSI slam, Verses also hosted an open mic March 24 at The Local. Both Verses and Lyric – Boone’s noncompetitive spoken word poetry club – host slams at The Local on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month in addition to open mic events at Bald Guy Brew every Wednesday at 7 p.m. In the past, the bi-monthly slams have been erotic-, haiku- and costume-themed.
Verses was established two years ago as an offshoot of Lyric, which was created by Appalachian alumnus Bear Brown seven years ago. McMillan, who is an active member of both Verses and Lyric said the concept of the latter as a poetry networking, sharing and workshopping club that is open to all, regardless of whether they write, read or listen to poetry.
Both clubs also hold writing and poetry workshops around Appalachian State University’s campus, specifically the residence halls; they recently held one in Justice Hall.
Margeson offered advice to those who are unsure about trying out for Verses or joining Lyric, saying everyone can find their niches in poetry. His main focus is hip-hop and said a participant at the club’s last open mic read hip-hop artist Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” which had a positive reception from the crowd.
“To those who don’t feel experienced or up to par, I don’t feel that we have ever judged someone unless it was constructively or they ask for it,” Margeson said. “At open mic no one is going to say anything, or giggle in the crowd unless you want them too.”
STORY: Katie Murawski, Intern A&E Reporter