Ryan Chartrand

Anthem, Cal Poly’s annual poetry slam competition, returns tonight for another year of toe-tapping, grooving poetry exploring racial, sexual, ethnic and class identities.

The slam, which pits seven nationally recognized poets against each other in a competition-style format, seeks to explore the power of words.

“Slam poetry is known as bringing poetry to streets. . It’s not traditional, academia-style, which I think a lot of people perceive as dry and boring,” said committee member and English junior Sarah Suksiri. “Slam poetry is high-energy and audience-oriented. Everyone who’s listening is involved not with words but with ideas presented.”

Committee member and graphic communication junior Aileen Carroll, who became involved in slam poetry after attending last year’s Anthem on a whim, was amazed by the power of one person’s voice.

“It’s watching people share their deepest and innermost thoughts on stage,” she said. “It takes a lot, opens yourself up to be judged, and it’s amazing to watch. It makes you feel things you never knew you could feel.”

The program is funded through IRAs and is sponsored by Cal Poly’s English department and the College of Liberal Arts.

This year’s master of ceremonies, 2003 National Slam Champion Steve Connell, will kick off the night with a short segment. The other poets will perform three rounds of three-minute segments. Four audience members – chosen randomly – will judge each round. A disc jockey and drummer will also be present.

The first 25 people in the door will receive a free T-shirt, and the committee will distribute more T-shirts as well as posters throughout the night.

Described as a “rock star of the slam poetry world,” by Carroll, Andrea Gibson, last year’s Anthem winner and third place winner in the 2007 World Slam Championship, will return. Other famous figures in the world of slam poetry who will attend are 2006 Underground Music Award’s Best Female Poet Iyeoka Okoawo; Sacramento Slam Team member Ike Torres; 2006 and 2005 National Poetry Slam Individual Champion Anis Mojgani; two-time Chicago Grand Slam Champion Alvin Lau; and Tara Hardy.

The committee has worked all quarter to ensure a quality and diverse lineup that will appeal to everyone. It welcomes any Cal Poly student interested in slam poetry to join.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. tonight in Chumash Auditorium and is free for students and community members.

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