iWPS grabs the mic in Phoenix

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I arrived at the Marquee Theatre an hour and 15 minutes early.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not the most punctual concert attendee. Confusion about the actual time of the event is to blame for my promptness.

Nonetheless, standing in the middle of a line with other patrons with excited faces and all-weekend passes increased my excitement for the night. I was also pretty jealous of the fact that many others had the chance to experience an entire weekend of poetry.

Once inside, the atmosphere was friendly and buzzing with excitement. It seemed that everyone sitting in the first few rows knew each other, exchanging hugs and high fives.

Photo Credit: Marie Rabusa Photo Credit: Marie Rabusa

This bright and vivacious community came together for their love of slam poetry, a bond strengthened by The Individual World Poetry Slam. IWPS for short, the Individual World Poetry Slam is an annual 4-day poetry festival where poets from around the world compete for a championship title.

If you've ever watched slam poems on Youtube, you've probably been moved, sometimes to tears. You've laughed. You've snorted. You've felt empowered. Slam poetry does that to you.

But seeing slam poetry in person is a new and raw experience, a complete reality check. Laughing and crying with everyone in the audience, hearing the subtle gasps at meaningful poetic statements, the emotions of the poem fill the enclosed space.

The voting portion of the event furthered the heightened emotions in the room. Five members of the audience are chosen to judge each poem on a scale from 1 to 10. They can rate a poem a 9.333 if they wanted, to add a bit of character. The audience was encouraged to boo any score they didn't like, and cheer for the scores they approved.

At the end of 3 rounds, Porsha O reigned supreme as the winner of the 2014 iWPS. Her poetry exuded confidence and empowerment, while also keeping hooked to the emotions and feelings of events in her life. You can see one of her pieces below:

[embed width="600" contenteditable="false"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_hh2kKnUKI[/embed]

I'm not normally one to dole out advice in such a direct way, but I will say this: watch poetry in person, if it's available to you. You won't regret a single moment of it.

The next iWPS will be in Washington, DC.

You can reach the columnist at arabusa@asu.edu or on Twitter @marie_eo.

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