Lobo Slam, the monthly UNM-chartered poetry slam and open mic at Winning Coffee Co., returned last week to an outpouring of enthusiasm from students and community members alike.
Lobo Slam, formerly called World Revolution, began in 2003, said Mercedez Holtry, former Lobo Slam president and current host of the event.
While Lobo Slam was unchartered from 2010 to 2013, it was rechartered in 2014 and has been around ever since, she said.
As the shows are held according to the school year, the season starts in September and ends in May, Holtry said.
The goal of Lobo Slam after rechartering in 2014 was to once again create a space where college students and faculty could come to enjoy poetry, speak their truth and engage in a community that welcomes all, Holtry said.
“Lobo Slam was created in order to create a platform for college students to speak their truth (through) the art form of spoken word,” she said. “Partial to that, its originators had a reputation for dominating the slam world back when it first started and wanted to send Albuquerque to represent at the college level as well.”
Lobo Slam strives to be as inclusive as possible, and its members pride themselves on giving students a platform to speak about what matters to them, Holtry said.
“Our format is typically an open mic, meaning there is no competition aspect to this part of the reading,” Holtry said. “It’s typically open to any type of performance. We then try and secure a feature poet, meaning we ask one poet to perform a 30-minute set of poems to showcase their talent.”
During this portion, the audience was encouraged to interact with the poets with snaps, yells and even hisses. Poets varied in age from a young 10-year-old girl to adults of all ages. Speech was also uncensored.
“Given that we are a freedom of speech venue, we allow everyone to speak their minds. But we are also a community of accountability, so our motto is: ‘Be responsible for what you say and be impeccable with your words, because you will get called out for anything said that is racist, sexist, homophobic, classist or prejudiced,’” Holtry said.
After the open mic finished, the slam began and judges were chosen to determine a winner.
This part of the event is a competition where poets are asked to perform with a time limit of 3:10, and random judges from the audience give each poet a score from zero to 10 based on performance and writing, Holtry said.
“Be brave,” Holtry said. “If you want to win a slam, memorize your poem, edit your writing and practice, practice, practice. Win or lose, we love that you’re on the mic either way.”
There was plenty of bravery on display Wednesday night, as two first-time performers at Lobo Slam, poet PW Covington and UNM poet Carolina Bucheli, both recited poems.
“It’s a beautiful role,” Covington said. “When you get up there you see 70 faces looking back at you. That’s a great thing for poetry.”
Bucheli said that even though it was her first poetry slam, and she felt intimidated, the energy in the room was very positive, and the crowd was receptive.
The crowd remained in the same space even late into the evening, after the event was officially over. After the last round of poetry, the audience was asked to raise their hand if they enjoyed the slam. The crowd answered with hands in the air and cheers.
Nichole Harwood is a news and culture beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.