TGS Poetry Festival: A Grand (Slam) Time

For about a decade, Mic Check Poetry in Bryan has been nourishing the poetry-starved members of the community by bringing weekly open mic poetry to the Bryan/College Station area. Then in 2011, the non-profit wanted to further feed the poetry addicts by hosting an annual state-wide slam poetry contest called the Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival. This year is no different, with only a few short days until the 3-day festival commences!

This year, 42 poets will compete for the champion title of 2016 Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival and a grand prize of $1,200! That’s a pretty penny.

Each extraordinarily talented poet brings a unique flavor to TGS 2016, covering a wide spectrum of topics including feminism, racial issues, nature, and humor. The poets are a wonderfully diverse bunch, with poets of all different genders, ethnicities, religions, ages, and personal backgrounds competing to be this year’s champion. This wide range of interesting people and poems is reflected in the past five Texas Grand Slam Poetry Champions.

To prepare for the festivities, brush up on TGS’ history and check out the previous winners!

2011/2013 – Kevin Burke

            A Chicago native, Kevin Burke is a two-time winner of TGS and has been a Texas poetry success. His 2013 winning poem “BtMI (Bomb the Music Industry),” inspired by a farewell tour of the band of the same name, focuses on the influence music can have on its listeners.

2012 – Twain

            2012 Texas Grand Slam Poetry Champion Twain tackles serious topics with a healthy dose of humor. In his semi-finals poem “This is for the men…” Twain talks about breaking gender norms and how “manhood” is not a one-size-fits-all classification.

2014 – Jeremyah “The Fluent One” Payne

            A Prairie View A&M University alumnus, Jeremyah “The Fluent One” Payne explores the emotional toll of physical illness and the power of music in his beautifully sad piece “Perfect Note,” which won him the 2014 title of Texas Grand Slam Champion.

2015 – Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley

            The most recent and first woman winner of the Texas Grand Slam, Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley is brutally honest in her piece “Black Woman Steps Up To Mic,” where she shares her perspective on being heard as an African-American woman in today’s society.

Like these poets? You can cheer on the 2016 Texas Grand Slam poets yourself at the Last Chance Slam September 29th at Blackwater Draw Brewery, the Prelims and Semis September 30th at various Bryan bars, and the Finals October 1st at Rudder Theatre. For tickets and further information, check out the Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival website. Don’t forget to let us here at The Eckleburg Project know who you’re rooting for!

–Aubrey Rieder

(Featured image source)

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