On August 9th, the 7 Hills Slam saw its first slam team ever, consisting of Ashley Wonder, Rushelle Frazier, Sarah Sapienza, Colin Killick, and Robert Blackwell Gibbs, board a plane headed to Oakland, California to participate in the 2015 National Poetry Slam. There was much effort put forth by the team and the community alike to make this happen, from fundraisers to grants, and the work was well worth it. Worcester has sent representative teams many times in the past, but home reading, the Poets Asylum went on hiatus, and a year went by in Worcester without a team. There were a group of people who decided to get together and create 7 Hills Slam and pick up the banner.
From the first minutes, Oakland felt electric. Even before the other poets arrived in Oakland sparks were in the air. The city, and the food were equally satisfying, the weather was mild and comfortable. Greeting the other poets and old friends once they arrived was a good start to what would become a great week.
In the first bout the 7 Hills team had the hearts, ears, and minds of the audience. The venue called Metro, was a very Worcester-like spot, with Pabst and that dingy smell of dive bar that reminded of home. In the end our heroes took 4th out of four but were able to perform the pieces that their hearts and minds wanted to share.
The second night of bouts started out much differently than the first. The venue, Bissap Baobab, a Senegalese restaurant, had the feeling of class with the air of home. On the strength of our two rookies, Ashley in the first round and Colin in the second, the 7 Hills team was able to open up a 2.4 point lead going into the last half of the slam. Our veterans, Rushelle, and Sarah, took that lead and carried us to the number one slot that night. With the right calls coming in from the night’s coach Robert it seems that everything fell into place.
It is important to point out that the points and scores are secondary to leaving our hearts on the stage. The most important thing about the whole experience is the poetry. There were so many great poems and performances it seems like a blur looking back. By the time the after-finals party began our heroes were as exhausted as they were fulfilled, and invigorated about the future of 7 Hills Slam!
There are too many people to thank for our inaugural year coming together so wonderfully. There has been such a collective effort from organizers, poets, volunteers, and audience that I am not sure we can ever top this! I am SURE we will try! Thank you all.
7 Hills Slam