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Sedona Poetry Slam to select All-Arizona Championship Poetry Slam poets Feb. 3

Three poets will be selected for the All-Arizona Championship Poetry Slam

RJ Walker (Courtesy/ Sedona Poetry Slam)

RJ Walker (Courtesy/ Sedona Poetry Slam)


Originally Published: January 31, 2024 12:01 p.m.

Performance poets will compete for the third time this season, bringing high-energy, competitive spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3.

The top three poets will be representing Sedona at the All-Arizona Championship Poetry Slam that will be held in the city of Maricopa on March 9.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Anyone can sign up to compete in the slam for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. To compete in the slam, poets will need three original poems, each lasting no longer than three minutes. No props, costumes nor musical accompaniment are permitted. The poets are judged Olympics-style by five members of the audience selected at random at the beginning of the slam.

Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. Poets come from as far away as Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, competing against adult poets from Sedona and Cottonwood, college poets from Northern Arizona University and youth poets from Sedona Red Rock High School. All types of poetry are welcome on the stage, from street-wise hip-hop and narrative performance poems, to political rants and introspective confessionals. Any poem is a "slam" poem if performed in a competition. All poets get three minutes per round to entertain and inspire the audience with their creativity.

The Mary D. Fisher Theatre is located at 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona. Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org.

The next poetry slam of the season will be held on Saturdays, March 9; April 13, featuring Briana Grace Hammerstrom of Portland. Ore., by way of Flagstaff, May 11 and finally on June 8.

The prize money is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporters Jeanne and Jim Freeland.

Email foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up early to compete or by the Friday before the slam or at the door the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive.

For more information, visit SedonaFilmFestival.org or foxthepoet.blogspot.com. For a full list of slam poetry events in Arizona, visit AZPoet.com.

All-Arizona Championship Poetry Slam

The All-Arizona Championship Poetry Slam will take place Saturday, March 9, at the Global Water Maricopa Center in the city of Maricopa. Poets from around the state will compete in slams held in four communities — Sedona, Flagstaff, Maricopa and Prescott — with each selecting their top three poets to send to the finals, in addition to drawing for the final three slots.

The 15 poets will compete in the championships hosted by Thomas Cooper, a slam poet from the Phoenix area who has represented Arizona a several regional events, including the finals stage of the Bigfoot Poetry Slam in Oregon. Cooper has coached youth slam teams, featured at events, judged slams and hosted events, which is now his focus.

Founded in 2018 and formerly hosted the late Arizona slam poetry legend Bernard ‘The Klute’ Schober, the All-Arizona Championship is sponsored by the Maricopa Arts Council and the city of Maricopa.

What is Poetry Slam?

Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984 by Marc Smith, poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport designed to get people who would otherwise never go to a poetry reading excited about the art form when it becomes a high-energy competition. Poetry slams are judged by five randomly chosen members of the audience who assign numerical value to individual poets' contents and performances.

Poetry slam has become an international artistic sport, with more than 100 major poetry slams in the United States, Canada, Australia and Western Europe. Slam poets have opened at the Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on ‘Russell Simmons' Def Poets’ on HBO.

Sedona has sent four-poet teams to represent the city at the National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., Boston, Cambridge, Mass., Oakland, Calif., Decatur, Ga., Denver and Chicago.