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Poetry Slam

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Top 3 in the All-Arizona Slam were (from left) Jordan Bubin, Ms. Anthropy and Sherdes Leonna. Photos by Jim Headley

Winners of the Arizona Poetry Slam held at Maricopa City Hall Saturday were Jordan “Naughty Mouse” Bubin in first, Ms Anthropy second and Sherdes Leonna in third. Competitors included two from Maricopa – Jasper Smith and Tristen Marshall. Fourteen poets were selected from around the state to perform their original work of personal, observational and political wordsmithing.

Bernard Schober, The Klute, serves as slam master.


The third annual All-Maricopa Poetry Slam is planned for Oct. 6. The Maricopa Arts Council event featuring Maricopa poets of high-school age and older is an artistic competition for performance of original poetry where poets perform their own work before an audience.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, tiny one-person plays, and all types of poetry are welcome onstage, from street-wise hip-hop and narrative performance poems, to political rants and introspective confessionals. Slams can be an intense theatrical experience, and because these are adult slams they are free speech events.

To compete, poets will need three original poems, each lasting no longer than three minutes. No props, costumes nor musical accompaniment are permitted.

Only the first 14 poets who show up at 5:45 p.m. to register will have the chance to perform, and performances will be carved down in each round, from 14 to nine to the final five. The top two poets will be awarded the prize of a spot to perform at the larger All-Arizona Poetry Slam Championship, also held in Maricopa, Feb. 2.

Plus, the two finalists will earn the opportunity to present at the All-Arizona championship slam as sorbet poets, performing a single poem in intermission between the official competition rounds.

The slam master for all MAC performance poetry events is poet Bernard Schober, who writes and performs as The Klute. A veteran of the annual National Slam, author of a dozen poetry collections and recognized worldwide as a shark conservationist, he is well-known throughout the Southwest for fiery, gripping performances of his own poetry.

The All-Maricopa Poetry Slam will return to its roots at Honeycutt Coffee, 44400 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 109. The event begins at 5:45 p.m., when participants register and audience members can purchase refreshments and mingle. The competition proper will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. During the preliminary period, audience members can enjoy a “slam prelude” – on-the-spot art created by Maricopa visual artists. There is a $5 event entrance fee.

MACmaricopa@gmail.com; Facebook.com, search Maricopa Arts Council

This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Poetry lovers packed into Honeycutt Coffee for the All-Arizona Poetry Slam Championship. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A standing-room-only crowd that spilled out the front door of Honeycutt Coffee met the first All-Arizona Poetry Slam Championship to come to Maricopa.

Maricopa Arts Council hosted the event Saturday. Approximately 80 people attended to hear some of the state’s best performance poets. That included two competitors from Maricopa taking their work to the next level for the first time.

The contest was varied and deep, with unpredictable scores from judges pulled from the audience. Maricopa Alex Hurley and Laura Olivieri did not survive the first round, but competitors called the event “awesome” and “incredible.” Hurley, a high schooler, was the youngest on the bill. Topics ranged from race relations to Star Wars to sweaty armpits.

Winner Lauren Perry of Phoenix is a 15-year veteran of slam poetry, being introduced to the craft among “old-schoolers” like Bernard “The Klute” Schober, Corbet Dean and Bill Campana in Mesa.

“I brought this awful piece of poetry. It was really bad,” she recalled. “I read my poem, and Klute was like, ‘Well, you did good. Just don’t suck next time. But I made it onto a team my first year and was like, ‘Now I love this,’ and now I do this all the time.”

A key motivator in growing Arizona’s slam poetry scene for two decades, Schober has been the slam master for Maricopa’s six events. He again emceed Saturday’s event.

Lauren Perry (center) won the event, with Stacy Eden placing third and Briana Hammerstrom third.

Stacy Eden, also from Phoenix, finished second on the night. She has a degree in English but has been a goldsmith for a dozen years.

“It just started coming out of me about a year ago,” she said. “And then six months ago, I did my first open mic. And my very first slam was actually in November. And I won that one, and I went back for the city finals and won that one and now I’m here. It’s the coolest community I’ve ever been a part of and never felt so understood as a person, and it’s by complete strangers most of the time. It’s pretty phenomenal.”

Originally on the “wait list” for the competition, Flagstaff’s Briana Grace Hammerstrom finished third. Starting in California seven years ago, she has worked many regional slams and is one of the organizers of the Flagstaff slam.

“I love the entire Arizona scene,” she said. “It’s a community that wants you to grow.”

The competition had 14 poets along with calibration poets.

“We had three strong poets and three strong women,” MAC co-founder Judith Zaimont said. “A good portion of what they had to say had to do with being strong poets and strong women.”

The top three poets took home cash, with first prize netting $400.

Alex Hurley (right), the winner of the All-Maricopa Slam, and runner-up Laura Olivieri will compete in the All-Arizona Slam in Maricopa Jan. 13. Photos by Mason Callejas

By Maricopa Arts Council

What: All-Arizona Poetry Slam Championship
When: Jan. 13, 7-10 p.m.
Where: Honeycutt Coffee, 44400 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 109
How much: $5 at the door
Info: Facebook.com/events/333528660452933

A vigorous artistic contest will take place Jan. 13 at the Maricopa Arts Council’s All-Arizona Poetry Slam Championship.

Slam Poetry offers works revealing the innermost thoughts and feelings of the poets. The 14 competitors include representatives of the Phoenix Slam, Sedona Slam and Flagstaff Slam, and the top two poets from MAC’s All-Maricopa Poetry Slam, Alex Hurley and Laura Olivieri.

National Slam rules will prevail: Each poem must be the poet’s own creation and should be no longer than three minutes. Judges are chosen from those present in the audience, and every performance is rated by each judge Olympics-style. At the close of each round, the competitors will successively be cut down in numbers until only five poets compete in the final round.

MAC is offering the top three cash prizes with $400 earmarked for the winner.

The 14 starting poets in the first round were selected online Dec. 11 from a month-long lottery run by MAC’s Slam Master, nationally-known poet and shark enthusiast Bernard Schober, who performs as The Klute. A poetry expert who has written 10 books and performed at the National Slam 10 times, The Klute has supervised and led all MAC’s poetry slam events since Maricopa ARTS Council introduced this type of Arts event to the city in August 2016.

The Slam Championship event will be preceded by a different type of artistic “prelude,” also a tradition introduced to Maricopa last year by MAC: “On-the-Spot” drawings on Honeycutt Coffee’s chalk-board and window will be created 5:30-7 p.m. by several Maricopa artists specially selected for this event.


1. Alex Hurley (1st Place – All Maricopa Slam)
2. Laura Ochs Olivieri (2nd Place – All Maricopa Slam)
3. Stacy Eden (Phoenix Poetry Slam Representative)
4. Lydia Gates (Flagstaff Poetry Slam Representative
5. TBD (Sedona Poetry Slam Representative)
6. Shawnte Orion
7. Sydney Rowe
8. Alexander Bentley
9. Lauren Perry
10. Aaron Hopkins-Johnson
11. Gabriela Castillo-Londono
12. Wil Williams
13. Al Fournier
14. M C Tristan Marshell
Wait list:
1. Briana Grace Hammerstrom
2. Chris Crockett
3. Joshua Wiss
4. Megan Condeno Atencia

This item appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

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Alex Hurley. Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

By Joycelyn Cabrera

Alex Hurley had never participated in a poetry slam prior to October’s All-Maricopa Slam. Hurley, a junior at Maricopa High School, competed against a few teens and many adults.

Each competitor prepared three poems for three rounds, each round judged on a 1-10 scale by a panel of five judges. Alex was a favorite from the beginning with enthusiastic audience reception.

Being one of the youngest participants in the slam, Hurley surprised the judges and audience with powerful, evocative poems filled with emotion. With original poetry “The Gun,” “Beauty” and “Bitten Fingernails,” Hurley’s themes of struggle earned him first place at the slam, opening a spot for him to compete at the All-State Poetry Slam in January.

“The Gun” was written in reference to the end of Hurley’s sophomore year after his participation with the MHS spring musical, Beauty and the Beast.

“I was feeling very fake, everything felt fake and unreal,” Hurley said. He created a metaphor describing both his identity struggles and his support system – contrasting the two different sides of his life at the time.

Hurley’s most recent poem, “Beauty,” was performed while unfinished at the poetry slam.

Alex has been writing since his freshman year, beginning as a coping mechanism. He wrote “Bitten Fingernails” over the summer of his sophomore year. His interest in poetry grew as he noticed the rhythm that comes with poems and the ability to communicate emotion through poetry.

“It makes people realize something about themselves and about other people. It sends a message,” Hurley said.

He gets his inspiration from his own struggles and the struggles of others around him.

Hurley describes performing at the All-Maricopa Slam as a nerve-racking and exhilarating experience. “It was kind of like achieving a dream.”

Hurley plans to bring old and new pieces to the All-State Poetry Slam, including “Bitten Fingernails.”

Bitten Fingernails

By Alex Hurley

my fingernails are tapping on piano keys
my fingertips used to be the only things that came out of my throat
and surely, i was done with my tweezing teeth
the clippings of sound that came out of my mouth
when i was unsure or clearly just bored
were comforting
a steady routine
a bad habit
a consistency i could depend on
an addiction
something i loved but its friction made my bones hurt with affliction
my fingers are always on restriction
bloodied and bruised
i often mused to the sound of pain coming from my brain

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Jesse Parent tied for 1st place is the first Southwest Region Poetry Slam.

Two poets from Arizona and Utah battled to a tie in the debut of the Southwest Regional Poetry Slam on Saturday night at The Duke.

Jeremiah Blue of Mesa and Jesse Parent of Salt Lake City finished in a dead heat among 14 poets and opted to split the prize money for first and second places rather than fight to the death.

Maricopa’s Laura Ochs Oliveri made it to the final round. Other Maricopans competing were Matteo Valdez and AJ. Themes ranged from the highly personal to the politically charged.

Rounding out the three-round slam were Phoenix poets Logan Caldwell, Sonora Mystique Reyes, Megan Condeno Atencia and Joy Young, Ashley M. Vargas of Las Vegas, Nevada, and R.J. Walker, Meghan McGinnis, Debbie Higham Wood and Kate Wilson of Salt Lake City.

Honeycutt Coffee will host the first All-Maricopa Poetry Slam on Jan. 13. Photo by Anita McLeod

If you rhyme, if you rap, if you have strong opinions, if you have quiet insight, if you just have something to get off your chest, slam poetry might be for you.

After an introductory event hosted by slam master Bernard “The Klute” Schober and a tryout with a kids slam, the first All-Maricopa Poetry Slam is slated for Jan. 13 at Honeycutt Coffee.

That will lead to the Southwest Regional Slam, hosted by The Duke at Rancho El Dorado on Jan. 28.

“These are both first-ever events for Maricopa,” said Judith Zaimont, a Maricopa Arts Council director.

The All-Maricopa Slam is open to adults and high-school age poets. The slam will follow standard rules, with no props or costumes allowed. Judges will be chosen from the audience, and high and low scores will be thrown out. Content does not have to be G-rated.

Honeycutt Coffee will open at 5:30. Registration is at 6 p.m. Only the first 14 poets to sign up will perform. There will be three elimination rounds to get down to the top five poets. The top three will get slots in the Southwest Regional Slam while the other two “sorbet” poets will get to perform a poem at intermission.

The regional slam has cash prizes at stake. Participating poets must sign in at The Duke by 7 p.m. The regional slam, too, will be in three elimination rounds. Poets must register their intent to enter by Jan. 14 via the event Facebook page: Southwest Regional Slam (brought to you by “Got Arts? Maricopa). They must also send their intent notice to Schober at TheRealKlute@gmail.com. Names of competitors will be chosen Jan. 15 live on Facebook.

Zaimont said MAC sees the Southwest Regional Slam as an opportunity “for Maricopa to show its best face to the outside world.”

It will bring in poets from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Tucson, Albuquerque and other areas.

The slams are part of MAC’s “Got Arts, Maricopa” ongoing expo.

If You Go
What:            All-Maricopa Poetry Slam                Southwest Regional Slam
When:           Jan. 13, 6:30 p.m.                               Jan. 28, 7 p.m.
Where:         Honeycutt Coffee                              The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
44400 W. Honeycutt Road, #109    42660 W. Rancho El Dorado Parkway
How much:   Free                                                     Free
Info:               MACmaricopa@gmail.com             TheRealKlute@gmail.com

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa kids from age 5 to 13 are invited to participate in a Youth Poetry Slam to be hosted by Slam Master the Klute (right). Photo by Anita McLeod

Get back to the roots of Slam Poetry.

If You Go
What: Youth Poetry Slam
Who: Kids age 5-13
When: Nov. 4, 5-7 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Public Library
How much: Free
Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1138522449561321/

Maricopa kids age 5-13 are invited to share their poems in a unique and supportive forum. The first Youth Poetry Slam in the city is Nov. 4 at the Maricopa Public Library.

There will be cash prizes.

“Poetry is important to kids whether they know it or not,” said Slam Master Bernard Schober, aka The Klute, who is hosting the event.

Dr. Seuss has a lasting impact, he said. With her isolated life, Emily Dickinson, whose work students are inevitably introduced to, always seems to remain relatable to teens. Poetry in all forms is integrated into young lives.

Slam Poetry, as a competition, is different than a typical poetry recitation. Five judges selected from the audience will score the poet from 0 to 10. The Youth Slam will also break one of the rules of the adult slam world by allowing costumes and props, even music.

Otherwise, the slam will follow the same rules. Poems are limited to three minutes and they must be performed. The poem and poet are scored.

Schober calls the organization of the Youth Slam “more kinetic and more freeform” than was originally planned. Instead of facing an early deadline, they can register the day of the event.

Feedback will also be more careful than it would be for a teen slam or an adult slam.

“A teenager has that kind of self-criticism that younger kids don’t,” Schober said. “We don’t want to crush their dreams.”

The Youth Poetry Slam is part of the “Got Arts, Maricopa” art expo that will continue into spring. An Adult Poetry Slam is scheduled for January, with a Teen Slam coming later.

To sign up early, email gotartsmaricopa@gmail.com.


Photo by Anita McLeod

A standing-room-only crowd ranging from teens to senior citizens turned out for Poetry Slam 101 Thursday night at Honeycutt Coffee.

As the kickoff event for the new expo “Got Arts, Maricopa?” the session was a time of performance as well as introduction of the poetry slam concept to Maricopans. The Klute, an established slam master, hosted the presentation by Maricopa Arts Council.

The Klute shared a handful of his own works, from railing on the “sadists” at the Arizona Department of Tourism to celebrating the great white shark. Among three poets joining him was John Quiñonez, who is coordinating this year’s Individual World Poetry Slam in Flagstaff in October.

Quiñonez also shared poetry, including the slam version of haiku. Jess Ballantyne performed her humorous and angry works on relationships. Joy Young took on politics and identity, also with sharp and personal insight.

Slam 101 was a prep for future poetry events and other arts events in Maricopa. As a prelude to the poets, local artists Maria Pour, Bonnie Del Turco and Valentine Ackerson created art on the spot for Honeycutt Coffee.

The Klute will be back in Maricopa on Sept. 9 for the open mic at the artist reception at Maricopa Public Library.

GOT ARTS, MARICOPA Fall/Winter Schedule
Sept. 4        Maricopa Artists Gallery at City Hall
Sept. 9        Inaugural Gallery and Adult Open Mic Poetry Evening at Maricopa Public Library
Sept. 22-24    Maricopa Community Theatre teen production of “An Ideal Husband”
Oct. 13-15    Maricopa Community Theatre Mainstage world premier of “Passing Strange”
Oct. 22        Performing Arts Gala at MHS Performing Arts Center with orchestra, chorus and dancers
Nov. 4        Kids’ Poetry Slam at Maricopa Public Library
Nov. 5        Art on the Veranda at The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
        Maricopa High School Theatre production
Nov. 18        World Music Showcase at Copper Sky with Taiko ensemble and Ak-Chin band and dancers
Dec. 3        DSPA Dance Company’s annual Sugar Plum Tea
Dec. 6        Maricopa High School end-of-term concert
Dec. 9        Maricopa Chorus Holiday Concert
Dec. 16        Maricopa Music Circle Chamber Orchestra Winter Serenade
January (TBA)    Studio Crawl 1: Drive-yourself tour of artist studios
Jan. 14        Maricopa Community Theatre Mainstage production of “Little Women”
Jan. 28        Adult Poetry Slam

We write to let InMaricopa.com know that the Maricopa ARTS Council K-8 Poetry Slam announced for this Friday evening at Global Water (Nov. 13) will be postponed until spring 2016.  At that time there will be a two-part Poetry Slam, with entries available in two
categories:  poets within K-8 age-group, and High School age poets.

The postponement is due to a lower-than-anticipated response rate.
MAC did receive several excellent submissions, but not enough for an effective event.

MAC is appreciative of the creative efforts of the students who did submit poems in 2015, and will hold these for re-submission for the spring 2016 dual Slams.

MAC thanks Global Water for their gracious offer to hold the fall 2015 Poetry Slam at its facility, and looks forward to having the 2016 dual Poetry Slams at Global Water, as was originally planned.

Details of the upcoming two Slams will be announced early in the new year.

John Janzen
Maria Pour
Judith Zaimont
Co-Directors, Maricopa ARTS Council

Young poets, get the word out. It’s time to express, emote and spout.

The “K-8 Poetry Slam” is at Global Water on Nov. 13. As luck would have it, that’s Friday the 13th.

“We are pledging to bring the arts forward to Maricopa in a big, big, never-to-be-forgotten way.” – Judith Zaimont

Maricopa Arts Council is debuting the slam. For kids, it’s a lot more fun than an oral exam. Be a ham. Start a jam. Just don’t scam.

An entry must be an original, unpublished poem written within the last two years. It must be recited aloud in front of judges and peers.

Oct. 28 is the deadline for entrants. This time, costumes and scenery can be elements. That is a rare exception to Poetry Slam rules.

MAC is inviting district, charter, private and home schools.

MAC’s Judith Lang Zaimont tells young poets, “Come on down and show us your literary talent.”

Poetry slams call on the creative, brave and gallant. Just have fun with puns and wordy runs.

Poems have a 40-line, two-minute limit. Email MACmaricopa@outlook.com to submit.

Send name, address, phone, grade, teacher’s name, school, title of poem and PDF of complete work. Art is the point, but a prize for first, second or third is a perk.

The slam is a sign of something non-bovine, non-dusty in the Maricopa air. Zaimont said this event is a preliminary for “Got Arts, Maricopa,” a major, future arts affair. The High School Poetry Slam is in the spring, and slams for adults and all ages are coming in 2017.

“Got Arts, Maricopa” will be a “spectacular, all-arts, three-season expo,” she said. There will be fine arts, performing arts and much more ahead.

“We are pledging to bring the arts forward to Maricopa,” Zaimont said, “in a big, big, never-to-be-forgotten way.”

So the K-8 Poetry Slam is not just child’s play. It is a rising slope of hope for art scope.

“We plan to set these arts events all around the city,” Zaimont said. “Not seated only in one location, we’re coming out to you.”

Part of that is getting local artists’ work on the library wall and City Hall, when new city policy comes through.

“And the way the art has been selected is a tribute both to Maricopa’s pool of talent and to the individual artists whose work is going to be represented,” Zaimont said.

Maricopa Arts Council invites everyone to contribute to the city’s art scene and prove a passion for creativity is widespread.

If You Go …
What: MAC K-8 Poetry Slam
When: Nov. 13, 7-8:45 p.m.
Where: Global Water Conference Room, 22590 N. Powers Parkway
Who: Students at MUSD, charter schools, private schools and home schools
How much: Entry and admission are free
Info: MaricopaArtsCouncil@gmail.com