Poetry slam, lyricist battle in Coffman

For many poets, the competition comes second to artistic expression.

The three slam masters of the 6th annual Voices Merging Poetry Slam and Lyricist Battle held Monday night at the Whole Music Club in Coffman Union began the evening by calling out, âÄúWho you with?âÄù More than 100 audience members yelled back, âÄúYou know!âÄù The event was held as part of the student groupâÄôs mission to promote diversity and artistic expression throughout the campus community. Voices Merging historian Thomas Toley said the event brought in a diverse crowd in terms of age, race, and religion. The event âÄî judged by experienced Twin Cities artists including Tish Jones and Alicia Steele âÄî also served to inspire students and audience members, he said. âÄúThe audience can see people at the top of their game in poetry and MCing,âÄù Toley, a third year communications major, said . Audience member Katie Cink said it was great to see so many with common interests come together. âÄúTheyâÄôre speaking and using their talents well,âÄù Cink, a recent graduate of the University of St. Thomas said. Voices Merging focuses on the importance of spoken word, poetry, and hip-hop, as well as visual and performance art. âÄúWe try to create communities where artists can come connect and network with each other,âÄù Voices Merging president Lenora Magee-Howard said . For the poetry slam and lyricist battle, competition comes second to the opportunity to bring artists together, Voices Merging Secretary Moira Pirsch said . âÄúOne of the most important sayings in slam is, âÄòThe point is not the point. The point is the poetry,âÄôâÄù Pirsch, a third year English major, said. âÄúItâÄôs a really love-filled space where everyone has mad respect for each other.âÄù Education is a value held high in Voices Merging, and the group participates in poetry and writing workshops at high schools across the Twin Cities . Pirsch said that high schools donâÄôt give enough opportunities for creative writing. âÄúIf you just say, âÄòHereâÄôs a pen. Write,âÄô itâÄôs not that hard for them to come up with really amazing things,âÄù Pirsch said. Magee-Howard said the workshops allow high school students to express themselves in a peaceful, constructive way. âÄúThey can express themselves to others, but they donâÄôt feel like theyâÄôre telling their whole lives,âÄù she said. âÄúTheyâÄôre not opening their diaries.âÄù The poetry slam and lyricist battle are part of the Voices Merging schedule that includes bi-monthly open mic nights . Pirsch said the beginnings of the open mic nights were slow, and that they were âÄúbegging poets to come.âÄù âÄúThis year, weâÄôve had over 200 people come,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs amazing to see how itâÄôs grown.âÄù The increase in attendance, proves their importance in the campus community, Toley said. âÄúIt should continue to be encouraged and backed by the university and the students so that people can continue to grow and continue to express themselves,âÄù he said. Open mics are held on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month at Moos Tower in room 2-650 from 8 P.M. âÄì 10 P.M.