When it comes to performance poetry, nothing quite compares to the National Poetry Slam (NPS). Every August, more than seventy teams from across the United States and abroad gather for the five-day tournament, each with hopes of attaining the coveted championship. According to previous competitors, the NPS is like the World Series of poetry — rife with competitive spirit and passionate, vocal fans.
Though the slam typically changes host cities annually, it will be returning to Oakland for the second year in a row on August 10, making it the first time a city has ever hosted the competition back-to-back. According to Maureen Benson, the Poetry Slam Inc. event coordinator, the decision to return was an easy one, despite it breaking a 25-year tradition. “There really isn’t a better city than Oakland to host such an incredible festival,” she said. “[The city] has such a great collection of art and spirit.” The locations for poetry readings and slam competitions are scattered throughout downtown, with venues such as Flight Deck, Laurel Bookstore, SoleSpace, and Awaken all taking part. Even the steps of Oakland City Hall will become a slam stage on August 13, when a poetic protest in support of #BlackLivesMatter will take place.