Jeering is a sign of respect. A finger snap signifies that some phrase hit home. Periodic audience “mmm-hmm”s add character to the slam. With a brick-wall backdrop, a mic and their voices, Utah’s top 10 poets take the stage again, vying for five positions to represent Utah at the National Poetry Slam this year in Boston.
Cody Winger, DeAnn Emett and Jesse Parent return to the competition from 2010’s team, which finished 44th—the best in Utah’s history. “What’s fun is that there are quite a few new voices in the scene this year,” says Parent, the only member over 30. The winner of the Last Chance Slam, Rebecca Mae, 18, represents the other end of the age spectrum.
This slam poetry creme de la creme—as determined by point rankings since September—is judged by randomly selected audience members, with each poet allotted three minutes in three rounds. Anything can happen.