Rhyme Verses Rhythm scores seventh in the country in national competition


Courtesy of Rhyme Verses Rhythm

The Rhyme Versus Rhythm team poses at Temple University for the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. The team came in seventh at the competition.

After a year spent writing, rewriting and rehearsing poems, Tulane’s very own slam poetry team, Rhyme Versus Rhythm, scored seventh in the nation at the annual College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. The team traveled to Temple University in Philadelphia on the week of April 3, where the poets earned Tulane international prestige in the world of slam poetry.

Slam poetry is written to be performed. For weeks before the competition, the team worked on memorizing the words and choreographing movements and gestures that would help convey the message of the poem.

Additionally, unlike traditional poetry, which can cover a range of subjects, slam poetry tends to be deeply personal and introspective.

“The things that are most personal to us, our innermost thoughts and feelings and traumas, we spill it all onto a stage for the audience to consume,” Co-captain of Rhyme Verses Rhythm Kayla Jackson, said.

According to Jackson, this kind of introspective writing can be a struggle, especially when it covers traumatic events. The result, however, can be rewarding.

“Slam poetry and spoken word have been platforms for predominantly marginalized voices to have a space to share their stories and to take control of their stories, to have their own voice,” Jackson said. “Many people use it to heal. Many people use it as a form of regaining power, regaining voice and regaining authority.”

Sometimes, poets combine their voices to create a group piece. Unlike individual pieces, or indies, group pieces allow writers to fuse their styles and experience into one poem.

“I love performing group pieces because it’s a process that brings you and your team members so close together,” Verses member Shahamat Uddin said. “There’s nothing like a bond between two performers who put vulnerable stories into art for an audience.”

During the CUPSI competition, Verses shared both indies and group pieces over the course of four days. The first two days of the competition were the preliminaries. Tulane, along with about 20 universities, moved on to semifinals, and only four teams made it to finals.

Since there are too many competitors to perform all the poems at once, individual competitions take the form of bouts in which four or five teams compete against each other.

During a bout, a bout manager chooses five random audience members from the audience who have no affiliation to the competitors. The five individuals chosen give each poem a score based on categories ranging from creativity and originality to performance and body language.

This year, the New York University team, known for spectacular performance skills, won the competition, followed by Stanford University.

“I’m incredibly impressed and satisfied with Tulane’s performance at CUPSI this year,” Uddin said. “Our team has worked incredibly hard throughout the entire year, and the friendship and chemistry we were able to cultivate showed in the competition results. We made a name for the South, for New Orleans and for ourselves at CUPSI this year, and that’s all I could really hope for.”

Verses was founded two years ago by Jackson and Jae Lee. The team is currently looking for new members. If you are interested, contact Jackson at [email protected].

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