poetry emily
Rusty Priske performs one of his original poems at a slam poetry competition hosted by Jamaal Jackson Rogers


By Emily Hutton

Audiences were snapping their fingers and shouting ‘SLAM!’ for their favorite performers at the Poetry Slam event on Oct. 16 hosted by Jamaal Jackson Rogers from Urban Legends Poetry Group.

Poets battled against each other at The Observatory for a chance to win $300 during the Poetry Slam event to a crowd of about 100 students who showed up to show their support for poets such as ArRay of WoRds. Who started the event by performing his original work “Raise the Asia!”, a comical and amusing poem about the different Asian cultures.

At the end of the night, the winner was Shaun ‘Sully’ Sullivan, who had finished second at the last Poetry Slam. The crowd was cheering loudly for Sullivan all night and made it no surprise that he was declared the winner.

“I waited all day for this,” said Sullivan.  “Obviously I wanted to win, nothing is worse than finishing second twice, it’s a liberating feeling and now I have money in my pocket to put on bills.”

The host, Jamaal Jackson Rogers, also known by his stage name Just Jamaal, originally started out as a rapper before getting into poetry.

“I got into poetry because I thought it was a better way to communicate how I felt rather than music,” said Rogers.

“I just felt that the hip-hop industry didn’t have a lot of room for creative thinking and outside-of-the-box lyricism at the time, and low and behold, I do this full-time now,” he said.

Even though Poetry Slam is a similar setting to a rap battle they are two very different types of performances.

“In a rap battle the focus is more head-to-head competition, where you have to go against one other individual and a lot of it is your really working on trying to defeat your opponent by how many times you can disrespect them with lyrics,” said Rogers.

“In poetry competitions it’s more you write poems expressing whatever it is you want to express, whether it be humorous or depressing and it’s not really towards anyone.”

Poetry Slam is a competition in which poets recite their pieces and are judged by a set of five judges with scoreboards picked from the audience. This semester, people who attended the performance were given ballots and were asked to vote on which they thought was best.

The competition consisted of three rounds. In the first round the eight poets were given three and a half minutes to recite their work and afterwards the audience was given a short break to choose which poets should continue in the Poetry Slam. The four favourites battled each other in the second round.