GVSU students to host poetry slam competition

Taylor Crowley

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Grand Valley State University’s newly formed College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) team will be hosting a competitive poetry slam on Wednesday, Dec. 6, in Area 51 of the Kirkhof Center at 7 p.m. The purpose of the slam is to find more members for the GVSU team to compete in the national CUPSI competition.

This year’s CUPSI team is still developing its roots and hoping to expand. The goal for this slam is to have 16 total poets participate. From here, the students will be judged by three judges to see if they make it to the next round. 

In the first round, each poet will have memorized a three-minute poem to perform for the audience. Clapping and snapping for the poet is highly encouraged. Rachel Jenkin, president of the CUPSI team at GVSU, shared how she first developed a love for slam.

“My friend was on a CUPSI team, and he asked me to attend his event,” she said. “Going into it, I had no idea what I was walking into, but the audience made such a big deal out of those people (the poets). They were so supportive. They were clapping, yelling and snapping.” 

Jenkin expressed how amazed she was by the support the crowd gave the poets, and she felt obligated to create something similar at GVSU. 

Outside of GVSU performances, Jenkin traveled to Chicago last year to perform in the CUPSI convention and said she is excited to spread the word about the CUPSI team, gain more team members and hopefully gain a following, too. 

Sydney Jackfert, a GVSU student and dedicated fan of slam poetry, is pleased to hear GVSU is hosting its very own poetry slam. 

“It’s awesome that GVSU is creating a CUPSI team because it is so well known in the slam community,” Jackfert said. “This is a way GVSU can expand on what the students here can do. I think this would help the students gain appreciation for something new.” 

Honesty and the willingness to express oneself through spoken word are some of slam’s best qualities. As a result, the writing and performance of slam are raw and pure. 

“We really strive to have an environment that is open and supportive where people feel like they can come and share any story they want, however they want, and we’ll be there to support them and listen to their story, no matter what it is,” Jenkin said. 

Jenkin and her slam partner, CUPSI Vice President Annie Livingston, are thrilled to see what competition this year is going to bring. The pair is looking to fully expand their team and hopefully attend the CUPSI convention in Philadelphia this year.

All poets are encouraged to bring their best, most well-memorized piece to the slam and compete for a spot on this year’s CUPSI team. Non-competing students are also welcome to attend the event or perform their spoken word.