Local slam poetry team defends championship

Poetry Slam
Californian Joyce Lee is one of the hundreds of poets from across the country competing in the 2010 National Poetry Slam in St. Paul, Minnesota.
MPR News Photo / Nikki Tundel

A hometown team has won the twenty-first National Poetry Slam Championship, held in St. Paul's Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

The St. Paul group calls itself the "Soap Boxing" team. It's made up of five members who have day jobs as actors, teachers and activists. They edged out a New York team Saturday to take the championship title for the fourth time in a row.

Matthew Rucker is a professional painter who helped organized the slam contest and coaches the St. Paul team.

"We have a core group of really wonderful poets and every year we get exponentially better because we're working together to get as good as possible," Rucker said.

Rucker said they've spent years working together to get better at all aspects of poetry slam.

"Slam is a sport and a game and a show, so you have to have incredibly well-written poetry that's performed brilliantly, and strategically placed within the bout in the best possible place so it can trump what the other teams do," Rucker said. "It's a game of high strategy."

Seventy-six teams from across North America competed in this year's national slam contest.

In the 21-year history of the National Poetry Slam Championship, this is the first time a team has defended the title in their hometown, and the second time a slam team has won in their hometown.

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