April 14, 2011

HU Poetry Slam rocks College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational

The current incarnation of the Hamline University Poetry Slam, a student organization in Hamline's College of Liberal Arts, has existed for less than a year. Formed in the fall of 2010 by junior Lewis Mundt and first-year Heather Smith, with great assistance by GLS professor Deborah Keenan, HUPS held its first event in November to a crowd of a little over 100 people, and has been sailing strong since. In its monthly programming of poetry slams and open mics, the organization has been widely supported and recognized by major community members in the Twin Cities, as well as on a national scale by touring performance poets (such as Brian "Omni" Dillon of New York, Boston's Carrie Rudzinski and April Ranger, and two-time National Poetry Slam individuals champion Anis Mojgani, all of whom have graced the Hamline stage in the past number of months.)

The organization is largely programming-based, and hosts occasional workshop sessions and activism performances and fundraisers. Local artists lending their love and support to the organization have included Kyle "Guante" Tran Myhre, Sierra DeMulder, Sam Cook, Michael Mlekodaj, Khary Jackson, and countless others.

One of the highest achievements of the slam, however, was its recent representation at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, an annual competition held at rotating sites around the country, this year back at its home site of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, on April 6-9. Essentially the national-level event for college slam teams, CUPSI is in its 11th year and open to registration to any college or university recognized as an authorized venue (a slightly tedious process that came together very late in the game for Hamline). Four undergraduate students (juniors Kelly Glader, Paris Kelvakis, Lewis Mundt, and Orin Rubin) traveled to Ann Arbor to compete on behalf of the university, and, well, they didn't do too badly. 

Out of 37 teams represented this year, the team from Hamline is currently ranked 9th in the nation, making the semifinals round in its very first appearance. To add to that, the team was a presence in this year's CUPSI awards (nominated and voted on by the coaches); while not bringing any home with them, the team and its members were recognized as prominent talent at this national-scale event. Kelly Glader garnered a nomination for Best Persona Poem for her work "Fritz Haber;" Paris Kelvakis was given a Best Love Poem nod for his work "Leaking;"

Lewis Mundt was nominated for the Pushing the Art Forward award for dedication to the community, and Hamline as a whole was nominated for the prestigious Best Writing as a Team. Whatever that means, the team is incredibly proud of its performance at CUPSI 2011, and is excited to see where things go from here. 

For more information, search Hamline University Poetry Slam on Facebook, but for the most up-to-date information on the slam, email Lewis at lmundt01@hamlineuniversity.edu and let him know you'd like to be added to the mailing list. 

Videos: 

The HUPS YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/HamlinePoetrySlam 

Paris Kelvakis performing "Gumballs": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fxxg5A_JfsY

Lewis Mundt performing "water.": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTt2QQ18lng

Orin Rubin performing "Backwards": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6ZWI_7WNWI