Emerson Poetry Project’s Spooky Slam will be so good it’s scary

By Sophia Pargas, Editor-in-Chief

This Halloween, the Emerson Poetry Project is providing a celebration like no other: a head-to-head performance poetry battle. The Spooky Slam, held on Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. in Little Building room 227, is the perfect place for all poetry lovers to spend the holiday observing, admiring, and performing spoken word. 

The spooky celebration has been a hallmark of EPP for as long as most of its members can remember. As it now falls on Halloween day, EPP president Abbie Langmead made an increased effort to make it a festive and fun space to celebrate.  

“This year, it was really important to me that I reinvent this staple, and make it really fun and engaging and worth going to, especially because it’s on Halloween,” Langmead said. 

In addition to the competition itself, all attendees are highly encouraged to come in costume and compete in a costume contest. 

The event will have two teams—Tricks versus Treats—and each member will write a slam poem based on a pre-assigned Halloween prompt. Judges will assign winners for each round, tallying points as they go. The winning team will enjoy a prize of full-sized candy bars. 

As described by Langmead, a compelling aspect of the event is its ability to bring together both old and new slam poetry competitors. 

“Spooky Slam is a really good intro event to the poetry slam scene,” Langmead said. “We’ve had a lot of people who have said this is going to be their first competitive poetry [contest] they’ve ever participated in. We also have a lot of seasoned veterans, so I think that’s really fun.” 

This is a sentiment echoed by EPP treasurer Bryan Arellano, who is also a member of last year’s Spooky Slam winning team. He said the event is the perfect time for newcomers to explore the realm of performance poetry. 

“It’s totally entry-level,” he said. “If you even have a modicum of interest for being in front of people and reading something, I think it’s a really interesting opportunity. I’d recommend people to do it at least once, especially if you feel like getting into the Halloween spirit.” 

Another welcoming aspect of Spooky Slam is its relaxed style of judging that helps to ease any nerves that may arise. 

“You just have a one-on-one face off,” Arellano said. “The score system is very, very low stakes.” 

Though it can be intimidating to perform in front of a panel of judges, EPP works to ensure a fair competition. For this event especially, the performance is judged less on the technicality and more on the passion, emotion, and spirit that is brought to the stage. 

“I always say my favorite type of slam judge is someone who doesn’t know anything about poetry, because then it’s entirely based on how you feel, not about the technical point of it all,” Langmead said. 

The event, however, is welcome to anyone—competitor, judge, or otherwise. 

“We always need audience members,” Langmead said. “Poetry is not a silent art form or a theatrical performance. It’s an engagement and it’s a transaction between the performer and the audience.” 

Unlike other forms of art, slam poetry is meant to be interacted with and felt by the audience. As Langmead explains, the audience’s role is often as imperative as the performers’. 

“You have to give [the performers] something, whether that’s making noise for them after their performance, or shouting at a line you really like, or encouraging them clapping as they go all the way up,” Langmead said. “Those sorts of things make a slam show what they are.” 

The EPP board is anticipating a high turnout at the event, with 18 competitors, 5 of whom are brand new to the organization. Members are highly encouraging students to attend and get a taste of all slam poetry has to offer. 

“It’s just a matter of having fun,” Langmead said. “This is an art form that is all about free expression and being yourself and owning your identity and gaining that confidence within yourself. It’s really just about sharing joy and love, sharing your art in a space of supportive, supportive people.”