SAINT LOUIS, MO. – April 26, 2014 – Top spoken word poets battled with piercing literary devices to win their place on the 2014 UrbSLAM touring team at UrbSLAM Final Stage held at Legacy Books and Café. Chris Ware took the top prize as UrbSLAM champion, beating out five other contestants for the distinction. The team will tour Greenville, South Carolina; Houston, Texas; and Oakland, California this summer, which marks St. Louis’s return to national competition since 2009. To prepare for the tour and promote poetry as performance art, the 2014 UrbSLAM team will perform at several high schools and youth organizations in the St. Louis region beginning with VerbQuake Youth Poetry Slam sites.
Poets Chris Ware, Slang, JayLuvve, and Louis ConPhliction earned places on the team; however, ConPhliction, the 2013 UrbSLAM champion, stepped aside from the touring team citing a desire for new poets to experience the national tour. As a result, first team alternate Freeman Word will compete in ConPhliction’s place. This is Word’s first year on the team. Both Poetic Slang and JayLuvve were members of the 2013 UrbSLAM team that toured New Orleans, Louisiana and Madison, Wisconsin for the Southern Fried and Rustbelt regional competitions. Ware served as an alternate. Along with Word’s previous slam experience, this team promises to improve St. Louis’s chances to do well in each tournament.
Several students from high schools and youth organizations will experience the 2014 UrbSLAM team in mid-May. UrbSLAM slammaster MK Stallings plans to visit the schools of recent VerbQuake Youth Poetry Slam Champions Gateway STEM and K-Word of Kirkwood High School among other schools. High schools can sign up for the May or fall tour by visiting UrbArts.org.
UrbSLAM completed its third season of competition with 8 slams held at Legacy Books and Café. UrbSLAM is sponsored and administered by UrbArts, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in Missouri and located in St. Louis City whose mission is to create platforms and platform creatives for youth development and betterment of community. UrbSLAM’s goal is to cultivate and promote spoken word poetry in the region through competition, workshops, and touring.
UrbSLAM is the only Poetry Slam, Inc certified venue in the city, which provides poets local poets with an opportunity to perform at National Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam, and Women of the World Poetry Slam. MK Stallings serves as the slammaster and coach for UrbSLAM. The 4th season of UrbSLAM will begin on the last Saturday of August, the 26th, in its new Crown Square location in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood. Saturday Night Slam will open its doors a 7:00 pm with a music spin from DJ Fred aka Smoooth. The competition will begin at 8:00. MK Stallings hosts. The audience judges. An award of $50 will be given to the top poet. For more information, visit UrbArts.org.
James “JayLuvve” Watford is 25 years old and a St. Louisan since birth.. This is his 3rd year as a member of the UrbSlam team and was the UrbSLAM champ in 2012. JayLuvve has been writing for 9 years and performing for 4 years. He also serves as an instructor/coach for Verbquake Youth Poetry Slam, an UrbArts program.
Salena “Poeticslang” Burch was born and raised in St. Louis MO. Involved in the community, Slang uses her talents as a writer of poetry, music, plays and prose for youth programs and engagement. She does not enjoy long walks on the beach but give her three minutes on stage, and she’ll show you who she is.
Chris Ware is a powerhouse of a performer who was born and raised in the city of St. Louis, Mo. At age 20, Chris Ware joined the United States Marine Corps and served 4 years on active duty before being honorably discharged in March of 2010. Upon his return to St. Louis, he taught himself how to play guitar and hopes to inspire those who feel out of place or awkward to accept and love themselves and be comfortable in their own skin.
Freeman Word is a 2013 graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. Freeman earned a B.A. in Philosophy with a minor of Psychology. He works with the 7th Grade Poetry Foundation as Program Coordinator and IT Advisor, is a CDJO at the Family Court of St. Louis County and was a proud 2014 instructor of VerbQuake. During his time at Washington University, he was the 2012 WU-Slam Grand Slam Champion, the recipient of the 2012 Langston Hughes award for artistic accomplishment in the black community and the 2012 Helen Davis Humanitarian award for his work with disadvantaged high school students in St. Louis.