UIC hosts College Union Poetry Slam Invitational

man performing at a poetry slam

Antwon Funches is among UIC students performing at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational April 12–15 on campus.

Teams of creatives from around the world gather at UIC this week to compete for top spots in a collegiate poetry slam competition.

Watch 450 students from 72 colleges and universities recite original works at Student Center East or the UIC Forum April 12–15 during the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational program (CUPSI). The tournament, led by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), gathers the top performance art talent from institutions around the world. This year is the first that UIC will host CUPSI — and it’s the largest tournament in the program’s history.

Rhonda Laylo, executive assistant in Campus Auxiliary Services, said Chicago’s ties to slam poetry might be one reason why. The performance art, where participants read their spoken word poems aloud, started in the city’s jazz clubs and lounges around the late 1980s.

“Chicago is the home of slam poetry,” she said. “People want to celebrate that.”

The campus has already shown a lot of interest.

Four students, all winners of UIC Radio’s Poetry Slam competition in February, will represent UIC during the event, and 80 campus community members have registered as volunteers.

Staff, faculty, students, alumni and the general public can still participate. Judges will be chosen from people who attend preliminaries, semifinals and final competitions.

Bouts begin at 5 p.m. April 12 and 13 at Student Center East.

At the UIC Forum, semifinals start at 6 p.m. April 14 and doors open at 6 p.m. April 15 for the final competitions. Tickets for finals, which can be picked up at the UIC Bookstore or the UIC Forum, are free and required for entry.

For more information, or to find schedules of team performances, visit the ACUI website.

Looking ahead, Laylo and other campus leaders would like participation in CUPSI to become a new campus tradition.

“We hope that by bringing this program here, we can help build a culture around slam poetry and have a team annually compete,” she said.

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