Finding My Niche in Slam Poetry

The following entry was written by Bobby Crawford, Class of 2014.

I always wanted to be a poet– whatever that means– but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the Emerson Poetry Project (EPP) that I discovered slam poetry and, more importantly, the accepting and exciting performance-and-writing community that makes up Emerson College’s poetry scene.

I got involved with the Emerson Poetry Project sometime early in my freshman year, when a friend dragged to me one of their shows against what I was sure was my own better judgment. “A bunch of people getting together and reading one another their work in some classroom on a Monday night? Lame.”

CUPSI logoThen I saw my first poetry slam. Some electricity inside of me that is drawn to competition (and the ability to move an audience with a powerful story) ignited against a lightning bolt of brilliance I felt watching the Emerson Poetry Project. I was captivated and immediately I knew that this was the channel through which I wanted to direct my own writing, and basically my whole life. I went on to slam for Emerson’s College Unions Poetry Slam (CUPSI) team that year and gradually began to take on a more active role in the community that helped ‘Emerson-ify’ me. That’s what I believe Emerson does best: the environment here leads you to something that challenges and channels the creative energy swarming inside of you, in whatever form is natural to you.

Today, I’m what you’d call obsessed. As the treasurer, co-curator, and host of the Emerson Poetry Project, I spend every minute I’m not in class (or occasionally, sleeping) organizing upcoming shows, writing new poems for performance workshop, competing in slams, and even featuring my work at performances throughout New England. With more visible slam poets like George Watsky, a 2010 Emerson alumnus, slam poetry is attracting a wider audience and it’s an exciting time to be a member of this vibrant poetry scene.

Undoubtedly, being active in EPP is a big time and energy commitment involving constant paperwork submissions to Student Government, booking artists to feature at Emerson, and endless hours of practice for CUPSI. But I credit these experiences with providing me something that I care about deeply enough to want to work at tirelessly. My involvement with EPP has helped me identify myself as a poet, surely, but it’d be more accurate to say that EPP helped me develop into the writer and student I am today. The most important things I’ve gained, though, are an art and a community that I love completely.

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