SAINT LOUIS, Mo. — April 19, 2014 — Kirkwood High School’s poetry slam team – K-Word – wins third annual VerbQuake Grand Slam and Hazelwood West student Truth B Told captures individual championship. Poems critiquing government inaction on immigration policy to the sexual objectification of women were seared into the consciousness of over 100 audience members in the 90 minute competition. Fifteen youth poets representing five high schools in the St. Louis region competed for top honors of VerbQuake champion at the Missouri History Museum.
In the team competition, K-Word earned 115.6 points out of 120 points beating Hazelwood West Slam Cats with 106.5 and Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory with 91.1. The fourth place Cleveland Naval Junior ROTC did not compete. The Kirkwood team — comprised of Anna, Peter, Maggie, Euphone’ and Elise – infused their poems with social commentary that challenged and engaged, offering two group poems. Spoken word poet Freeman Word coached K-Word in its first year in the competition. Kirkwood teacher Mr. Dominic Pioter sponsored the team.
Indie VerbQuake champion Truth B Told scored 29.4 out of 30 possible points, edging out her Slam Cats teammate Faith who earned 28.8. The individual competition featured representatives from K-Word and Slam Cats as well as Gateway STEM and Central Visual and Performing Arts. Poetic Slang coached Truth B Told. Hazelwood West teacher Mr. Chris Holmes sponsored Slam Cats.
VerbQuake is a poetry slam competition, critical literacy, and performing arts program for high school teens throughout the St. Louis region. UrbArts administers the program and high schools are free to participate. In 2014, VerbQuake coaches facilitated workshops at 16 high schools and had 14 registered to compete in the spring tournament. The top four teams and 7 individual poets advanced to the grand slam.
The VerbQuake planning committee is considering hosting the Spring Tournament in Old North St. Louis in the Crown Square section of the neighborhood. The location of the Grand Slam is to be determined. The next VerbQuake competition will be in July 2014 as a part of the VerbQuake Poetry Slam Camp at Crown Square, funded in part by the Marketplace of Ideas grant made available through the Incarnate Word Foundation.