If you happen to wander into the middle room at Avogadro’s Number on the last Sunday of any given week, you will be hit with the smell of burgers and beer in dim lighting with anxious writers quickly scribbling to finalize their poems. You have just walked into Slamogadro.
Commonly referred to as Slamo, this event has been going on every month for two years at Avogadro’s Number, who allows young poets to host it for free.
September’s Slamo host and CSU alumnus, Davis Webster, describes it as a “safe place open to underrated voices.” It works by having five judges give each poem performed a score out of ten. These scores are then averaged out, and the poem is given a score out of 30. But, as Webster repeated throughout the show, “applaud the poet, not the score.”
After the first round, half of the competitors are eliminated. After the second round, they are down to the final three. One more round determines the winner, and that person gets to walk home with a bucket of donations from the audience containing anything from cash money to Dixie Chick condoms.
On Sept. 25, there were 13 competitors, some were CSU students, some were CSU alumni and some were simply poetry lovers coming together to share their stories, their feelings and their opinions.
Before the competition, the night started with a brief opening poetry performance. There was also a 15 minute intermission after the first round with a lovely ukulele player strumming songs about anything from twitter to punk band boys.
After a fierce Slamo, CSU alumna Kaitlyn Phillips walked away the winner but not without a fight.
At the end of the third round, there was a tie for first place, which was settled by a “haiku death match” where both competitors had four minutes to compose a haiku and perform it.
Slamo is an important, defining event in Fort Collins culture. It intrigues new residents and students interested in poetry, and it provides a different way to spice up a Sunday night.
“The opportunities I had back home were limited; I’ve never done something like this before because my town didn’t have a similar venue,” said Linc Thomas, poet and CSU undergraduate student.
Thomas said there is a lot room for interpretation and change in the ambiguous medium of poetry.
“There is no correct answer in poetry or art in general,” Thomas said. “It’s a way to diversify society. It’s a way to self evaluate and express pent up emotions.”
Overall, Slamo is essentially a poetry reading with a competitive edge. People come to see well-formed poetry and expect good performances. But, don’t let that scare you away. The whole community is so positive and loving that it feels more like a sleepover than anything else. Long lasting friendships form and everybody is sharing their deepest secrets they’re too scared to share with anyone else. People are talking about their relationships, their existentialism and even their strong sense of social justice. The poets and the poems themselves can be described as cynical with notes of optimism or vice versa. Many of the poems are personal, but they are still something you feel a connection with because we can all relate in some form to one another.
During a Slamo, you instantly become close to a bunch of previous strangers. The general atmosphere of the room is positive and creative. Just by being in there, you feel instantly more creative. It is a wonderful place to step out of and expand your comfort zone. The poems can be quite vulgar and crass, but if anything, it just strengthens the bond between performers and their audience.
Anyone interested in participating in a Slamo simply has to walk into Avogadro’s Number at 7 on the last Sunday of any month.