Poetry team places fourth in nation

by Beacon Staff • March 18, 2009

While most of the Emerson community had trickled home for spring break, the Emerson Slam Poetry Team placed fourth nationally in the 2009 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational in Philadelphia.

Each year, the Association of College Unions International hosts the CUPSI, an event that welcomed poetry teams to compete with their best and most heart-felt performance pieces. The Emerson team was made up of seniors Maxwell Kessler and Carrie Rudzinski, juniors Carlos Williams and George Watsky, freshman alternate Peter Lundquist and coach Steve Subrizi, an Emerson alumnus. iHear Rudzinski perform a piece a href="http://c2.libsyn.com/media/794/indiefeed_carrierudzinski_elbows.mp3?nvb=20090318200612nva=20090319200612t=07e1454d0e35fc11fbccd"here/a./i

The competition, which took place at the University of Pennsylvania from March 12 to 15, included 32 teams of four slammers each from across the country.

While Emerson didn't take home the gold, two of its team members were recognized for special achievement and given Coaches Awards. Williams, an original member of the Gringo Choir, a student-formed poetry group, took home Best Male Poet while Gringo newbie Lundquist was honored for Best Persona Poem.

Williams shared the overwhelming sentiment of pride with the group on Monday at an Emerson Poetry Project workshop. EPP is an organization that hosts both workshops and open mics on Monday nights for student writers and listeners in the slam poet community.

"It was absolutely perfect," the independent studies, poetry and performance as community education major said. "It was like a movie, how cinematic it was."

Subrizi said it wasn't about winning, but about making an impact in the poetry community through writing. Their goal, he said, was to make it to nationals, let alone place in the top five.

"I'm glad we took fourth," Subrizi said. "Our poems demonstrated the obsoleteness of slam poetry as a means of judging the worth of poems."

Kessler, an original member of the Gringo Choir and co-curator of the Emerson Poetry Project, said the team set out to go against the grain from the start.

"It's easy to be ignored because we're different, but we said we weren't going to play the game," the writing for film and television major said. "We got up and did love poems and brought the fucking house down."

Deemed rookie of the year by Kessler, Lundquist, the newest member of the Choir, said the team decided to defend their reputation as being different and performed unslammable poetry, or pieces that don't usually receive high scores.

"We almost made a point of not winning because we did several poems that do not typically score well," the filmmajor said. "We chose poems that we wanted to do and I think people recognized that."

Kessler said he hopes people finally see how important EPP is to not only the Emerson community but also the performance poetry culture as a whole.

"I feel like the organization is in a good place," he said. "It really could become a mainstay here for Emerson writers to grow."