College Union Poetry Slam Invitational
Last April, more than 100 people gathered on Grounds to hear a group of students perform the poetry they had been working on throughout the Spring semester. The event also served as a final tune-up for a team of students on the verge of heading to Houston from April 9-14, 2019 for the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). The CUPSI Send-Off Slam highlighted the work of team members who had spent the entire semester engaged in intensive rehearsals and workshops led by their coaches, including MFA candidate Anna Beecher (College ‘20) and student CUPSI alumni Rachel Abrams (College ‘19) and Elliott Carter (College ‘20). Buoyed by this spirited warm-up event, the team members headed to Houston, where they competed in two preliminary bouts, earning third place in one and second place in the other. The team finished the competition ranked #33 among the 58 participating schools. It was also nominated for Best Writing by a Team, continuing to make a name for UVA as an innovative and literary squad at the national level.
Beyond being a valuable training ground for the participants, the experience also allowed the UVA CUPSI team to interact and collaborate with the other participating schools, forging relationships that will last far longer than the CUPSI season. The team attended a writing workshop, exploring the consistency of imagery in their own work, and considered how to leverage those connections better. In addition to competing and refining their individual performances, the students spent multiple days watching a variety of hosts and their differing approaches, as well as exploring the attitudes and ethics of various teams. These observations taught important lessons in poetry and performance skills, but also on how to uphold a positive and caring a slam space. Thanks to the generosity of the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost of the Arts, which supported the trip to Texas, the team returned to the University empowered with new tools and skills, and ready to pass these lessons on to the local community as well. The experience, team members said, allowed them to return to Grounds with new knowledge, tactics, relationships, and inspiration that will serve them in their next slam and beyond.