Phoenix Set To Host
Copper State Poetry Slam
For The Second Year In A Row, The Capital Of Arizona Will Be The Center Of The State’s Spoken Word Universe When Downtown Phoenix Hosts The State Championship Of Slam Poetry
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
July 19, 2014 — The Copper State Poetry Slam, an annual team based slam poetry competition pitting the best poets in the state of Arizona against each other for team slam poetry dominance, will get the rhymes and meters flowing next Saturday and Sunday at Playhouse On The Park, 1850 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.
Three national slam teams representing Phoenix, Sedona, and Flagstaff will face off against at least five pickup teams made up of poets from the Valley area as well as Tucson.
“We’ve had some form of annual state championship dating back 8 or 9 years, but it wasn’t identified as the Copper State Poetry Slam until 2012,” said Copper State’s executive director Jeremiah Blue.
Blue became the Copper State’s organizer last year. He was a competitor in the event in 2007.
"The biggest thing that I did was change the city the slam is in because the state championship before has been in sort of far out more obscure cities. In 2012 it was in Casa Grande, and before that it was in Arcosanti. But I brought it to a major metropolitan hub bringing it down to Phoenix and that has probably been the biggest thing,” he said.
Another advantage to holding the Copper State Slam in Phoenix is the close proximity to Lawn Gnome Publishing which, since its opening, has acted as a hub for Valley poets, he said. Lawn Gnome, and it’s owner Aaron Johnson, have been at the center of Phoenix and the greater Valley areas poetry scene for more than a year, and with them bringing the Individual World Poetry Slam to Phoenix in October it can only mean positive things for the Phoenix poetry scene in general, and the upcoming Copper State Slam.
“If IWPS has had any sort of effect on Copper State, it’s been a positive one. There is a chance that the World Slam is why we are seeing as many poets and as much talent as we have been lately. The better Copper State goes, the better the World Slam will be,” said Blue.
However it takes more than one city to make for a statewide slam. While Johnson has been cultivating a poetry scene in Phoenix, John Quinones of Flagstaff and Christopher Foxgram of Sedona have been doing their best to maintain the art of spoken word in their respective cities.
“They have really been a huge support just by participating in their own scenes and running really good shows. When the teams from those towns end up participating their audiences usually come down with them,” said Blue.
Another change that Blue has implemented since taking the reigns of the annual slam was trimming down the side events. He said the event used to be a two day poetry festival with tons of side events, and the slam itself would become secondary to all of the other goings on. Since taking over, however, he has “streamlined” the festival into a two day slam with two side events opening day one and one side event opening day 2
On the first day of the slam, July 26, there will be a 4 p.m. workshop on publishing hosted by Jacob Friedman of Four Chambers Press, and Aaron Johnson of Lawn Gnome Publishing. Followed by the “Haiku Death Match” at 5 p.m. which will be hosted by Joy Young and Rowie Sheballa. On day two, the side event will be the “Nerd” Poetry Slam hosted by The Klute and Joy Young at 6 p.m., before the championship round starts at 7 p.m.
“There are no qualifications to be in the Copper State Slam other then that you are poets doing your own work with four or five poets on your team. National teams get priority, but we have never had enough teams enter that we had to turn anyone away,” said Blue. He also said registration for the event would be open until 11:59 p.m. on July 19. To register contact JSBlue@live.com.
The way the event works is eight to ten teams draw to determine who will compete in about one and who will compete in about two one week before the event. Each team will compete in four rounds of poetry slams, and in each round each team must have at least four player represented. The top two teams from each bout will compete in Sunday’s championship round.
“We follow the rules as set by P.S.I for the national poetry slam. All of the poets must perform their own original work. No props, no music, no nudity and we always pick random judges from the audience,” said Blue.
“I really want quality hosting, teams to have fun and feel its a professional competition and I always want to give them a big audience,” said Blue, who turned to Quinones and poet Alex Kirsick to host the first two bouts and Tomas Stanton of Phonetic Spit to host the championship round.
With the competition date coming ever closer, the Sedona team is looking like the odds on favorite, considering it is comprised almost exclusively of last year’s Phoenix team which won the competition and took fourth at nationals. Young, Sheballa, Klute, and Lauren Perry will face some stiff competition. But the championship pedigree definitely makes them the favorite.
Both Saturday’s and Sunday’s event will take place at the Playhouse On The Park, 1850 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.
Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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