Emerson Poetry Project hosts ‘Box of Doom’


Hailey Akau

First place winner Lucy Ellis.

By Olivia LeDuc, News Editor

Students gathered and laughed at TikTok and Tumblr references at Emerson Poetry Project’s biannual “Box of Doom” slam competition Monday evening.

Dubbed by the student organization as “the worst of what literature has to offer,” the competition is a once-a-semester poetry event where students draw from submissions by other students at random and perform them blindly in the style of slam poetry. 

The “Box of Doom” slam competition originated as an event dedicated to “Vine” content—turning videos from the Vine app into spoken word—but has since shifted to include content from other social media platforms, such as Tumblr and TikTok, according to Abbie Langmead, the organization’s president and host of the competition.

“We added the ‘Box of Doom’ two years ago because it is always a popular event,” said the senior creative writing major. “We got more expansive since Vine died, and everything we had on stage was literature.” 

Langmead said the “Box of Doom” competition sparks an opportunity for students to freely express and facilitate community in the art form of poetry, while also “not taking their work not too seriously.”

“Performance is something that we use in our day-to-day lives, no matter what major you are, and it can be really hard to be vulnerable on stage,” she said.

Langmead added that for the majority, it can be “exhausting and taxing” to EPP participants who regularly perform in the organization’s weekly slam poetry events.

“The ‘Box of Doom’ is a really cathartic moment,” Langmead said.

During the competition, a lineup of performers selected a piece of paper containing “Tumblr text posts and TikTok sounds” and “cringey song lyrics and quotes” at random. Each performer was given a few minutes to prepare and was scored by a panel of student judges. The lowest-scoring competitors were eliminated in three rounds until a victor was named. 

Reigning champ from last semester, Lucy Eller, a senior creative writing major and participant in EPP, won Monday’s slam competition. 

Eller said that competing in the “Box of Doom” is both fun and “nerve-wracking,” but added that she got a kick out of merging the literary and the comedy.

It’s a bit nerve-racking to compete,” Eller said. “[It’s] also inherently anxiety-inducing to have to speak in front of an audience with minimal time to prepare. This time around, I was able to beat my nerves—for the most part—by approaching it way more from an angle of, ‘I’m just here to have fun and read some stupid things.’”

Additionally, Eller said that the “Box of Doom” provides a challenge “to turn one thing into something entirely different” and the freedom that comes with it. 

“An event where memes and ‘the worst of literature’ get treated as high art is, in a way, refreshing,” Eller said. “Poetry is something that can simply be enjoyed for its own sake, and something that can be fun and entertaining.”

Anne O’Leary, a third-year creative writing major and social media manager of EPP, echoed Eller’s reasoning for participating in the competition because of the entertainment aspect. 

The competition is really fun, and I like to be silly sometimes,” O’Leary said. “I like everyone to be in a happy and fun environment with fun readings. It’s a cool way for people to prepare for slam poetry and live readings that are more serious.”