Our Favorite 10 Poems of NPS 2013

The following poems are in NO PARTICULAR ORDER. There were over 670 poems performed last week at the National Poetry Slam, and these were just a few that stood out.

1. Ben (Hear Here, Colorado Springs, CO)- Flying Cat Poem

This was the first poem of the competition that actually brought tears to our eyes. Ben speaks from the perspective of a 6 year old who pretends to be a flying cat to escape troubles at home.

2. Christine Howey (Lake Effect Poetry Slam, Cleveland, OH)- Shoe Store Poem

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/berkleevs [poem starts at 39:16]

Christine, a transgender woman, read a piece at the QILTBAG reading that caught so much attention, it ended up on final stage. In it, she describes her experiences navigating gender and how dangerous and beautiful it can be.

3. Venessa Marco (The Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe, New York, NY)- “To the Man on the J Train”

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/berkleevs [poem starts at 2:09:38]

Venessa tells a personal story of a dangerous encounter on a New York City train. Her empowering narrative left us, and the rest of the audience, on the edges of our seats. “I am woman. My whole life is surviving.”

4. Dominique Ashaheed- “Karma”

Dominique was the winner of the Underground individual competition (NUPIC) this year, and owned the room with every one of her poems. “Karma” is one of our favorites.

5. Theresa Davis- “Like Like”

Theresa Davis hosted the QILTBAG reading, and shared a poem about the relationship between herself, her son, and the girls they “like like”.

6. Terisa Siagatonu and Fisseha Moges (Da Poetry Lounge, Hollywood, CA)- Religion


Terisa and Fisseha’s poem addresses two viewpoints from a practicing Muslim, and a practicing Christian. In it, they tear down stereotypes of oppression, radicalism, and bigotry.

7. Hieu Nguyen (Soapboxing, Minneapolis, MN)- “Southbound”


“I know he wasn’t talking to me.”

Hieu Nguyen tore up the stage in a prelim bout with a poem about the intersectionality of his Asian American heritage, and his sexuality.

8. Neo-Soul Slam team (Austin, TX) – Trafficking poem

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/berkleevs [Poem starts at 48:16]

Neo Soul tied for 1st place in group piece finals with this amazing piece about human trafficking, described using the metaphor of actual traffic.

9. Cam Awkward-Rich (Bay Area UNIFIED, Bay Area, CA)- “Every Trans Person Needs a Poem about the Bathroom”

So many LGBT identified people have various funny and sometimes dangerous “bathroom stories”. In his poem, Cam Awkward-Rich describes the trials and tribulations of using the bathroom as a transgender man.

10. Aaron Samuels (Urbana, NY, New York)- “Conditioned”

Aaron Samuels’ describes how people can be socially progressive, while simultaneously carrying various prejudices that they often deny.


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