Poetry Slams into the Hearts of Charleston at Pure Theater

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

On Tuesday, September 22, Unspoken Word hosted the Holy City Slam at the Pure Theater.? Host and MC Derek Berry opened the evening with comedic banter and an expressive explanation of how poetry knows no judgement or boundaries.

Co-host Matthew Foley subjected himself as the sacrificial lamb doing A Letter to the Poetry Slammers as a test for the judges and the audience.? The strength of prose and powerful message of complete emotional release was a driving force to fuel the evening.? From dancing on the stage to an explosion of words, Matthew provided a guideline for life.

The evening featured four performing contestants.? The rules were simple.

  • Each poet performs two pieces.? Round one and round two.
  • Each poet has 3 minutes with a 10 second grace period
  • Five judges rule on a scale of? 1 – 10
  • The top two performers would go on to Round three.? Each finalist scores from round one and two are erased and it becomes a one round finale.

The performances were on extreme ends of the life spectrum, ranging from racial relations to relationships to sexting to infant loss.? There was nothing held back from this core of contestants than included a performer that had only been on stage for the second time in his life.

As the scores were tallied during a brief intermission, local Charleston performers took the stage in an open mic form.? While Marcus Amaker spoke of drowning in a waterfall of love soaked in intimate lust and desirable love, Derek and Matthew cut themselves metaphorically with an ode to a father and a mother.? Both poems released truths of emotionally challenging periods of facing failure and death.

From Mickey Mantle to Lupus, I think every one of the 60 plus members of the audience could internalize from these two poignant poems about family.

In the final round Saeed and Liz were left standing.? First Saeed and then Liz.? The five judges weighed heavily on presentation, content, emotion and impact on the audience.? In the end, Liz took the higher score, but all four contestants came out victorious.? It was a night of the spoken word.? A night where we all sat in a house of worship, with no religion to be found.

From silent concentration to screams from the audience, the extremely active audience participation showed what an important part our lives poetry plays.

For a moment, I closed my eyes and listened to the music play from the stage.? Without instruments; just the lyrics of the heart.

As Derek made note early on in the evening, the night was about not holding back.? It was about complete and unadulterated freedom

Sometime our greatest fear in life is to hear what we don’t want to know.? Expressive emotion is hard; then again so is life.

The Poetry Slam was a night where love and expression came together for all.