Poets and performers gather at the Student Union

Participants of an event named "I Didn't Finish..." sing, dance, and compete in a poetry slam in the Student Union Theater on Tuesday night. The event was sponsored by Poetic Release and Lambda Alpha Upsilon fraternity. (Photo by Maggie Chafouleas/The Daily Campus)

With a chorus of snaps, Latino America Unida, Lambda Alpha Upsilon Fraternity (LAU) and Poetic Release presented “I Didn’t Finish…” to the Student Union Theatre last night. The event was an open mic and a poetry slam.

Although a lot of minority groups were present, Tariq Turner, a member of LAU, explained the event was named “I Didn’t Finish…” because these groups will have to keep fighting in order to be heard and be equal to those in power.

“It was really minority orientated,” James Parsley, a first-semester undecided engineering major, said. “So it was really cool to see the culture pop out.”

The event was hosted by Sadejah Blake, the president of Poetic Release, who introduced the first act of the open mic. The first performance was a dance by B.A.I.L.E. (Bringing Awarness Into Latino Ethnicities), followed by rap and singing performances by three different students.

Various Poetic Release members, who competed in a previous poetry slam, took the stage. During their performances, the poets clearly surprised the audience with some of the subject matter and their skill. The poems often touched upon the topics of suicide, sexuality and self-esteem.

“The fact that everybody was willing to be so vulnerable and share poems that were a little more personal was impressive to me,” Shariel Rodriguez, a seventh-semester sociology major, said.

However, the composition of each poem was just as impressive and inspiring to the audience as the subject matter was. Each piece was expertly written and had clearly undergone significant revision. Some poems were better at conveying a narrative while others excelled at their use of alliteration, rhythm or imagery. The final performance of the open mic was by Blake herself.

After a brief intermission, the poetry slam began. The slam had 10 participants. Each prepared three poems, two for each round and one in the case of tiebreaker. The judges were picked at random out of the audience.

During the first round, each performer had three minutes for their first piece and then received a rating from each judge on a scale from one to 10. Once the last performer had gone, the second round immediately began in opposite order.

The performers were all of different backgrounds and had varying strengths and weaknesses in regards to their poetry. Each performance amassed an overwhelming amount of support from the audience. The thing about poetry slams is that when a particular line resonates with a member of the audience, they’re encourage to snap their fingers in affirmation and support. The audience generates most of the energy and hype.

“(It’s) very free, it’s very open to anything. The poets could recite anything they want, I like that,” Rodriguez said.

At the end of both rounds, the stage was opened up to any member of the audience who wanted to perform while the scores were being tallied. The audience praised the organizations who hosted the event and for the amount of diversity there was.

“The fact that it was...ran by pretty much a minority group, you don’t see that a lot,” Luis Gonzalez, a first-semester sociology and communication major, said.

The winners of the slam will qualify to compete at The Grand Slam, which is the biggest event of the year. The Grand Slam allows to participants compete to secure a position and be sent to Houston, Texas for the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI).

The Grand Slam will take place on Dec. 3 at the Student Union Theatre.


Brandon Barzola is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brandon.barzola@uconn.edu. He tweets @brandonbarzola.