After a week long stay in Madison (Wisconsin), the San Diego Slam Team triumphantly returned home to San Diego on Sunday night. While they did not win the National Championship of Poetry & Spoken Word, they were very successful in putting San Diego's poetry & spoken word scene on the map. While at the tournament, people constantly wondered how an virtual unknown in the game could make it past perennial power teams like New York-Urbana.
Making it to the semi-finals was more than they ever thought was possible in the first year of national competition. The team (Ant Black, Gill SOTU, Deacon Blair, Brian Debenedictus, and Slam-master/coach Christopher Wilson) credits their success to hardwork, focus, and determination. "We went to Madison to make sure people knew San Diego was on the rise," said Ant Black. In the teams intial response to making it to the semi-finals coach Chris Wilson summed up the teams thoughts in one statement, "What we ended up doing was putting a target on our back as the team to watch out for and that felt good."
In making it out of the preliminary rounds, the team racked up two consecutive bout wins. In their second bout, they went up against the powerhouse team of New York-Urbana, who eventually won the group piece championship. "We knew going into the second bout that it would be tough, but we were confident that we had enough to win," reported Gill SOTU. The team pulled out a surprising victory in the bout which put them at the top of the rankings going into the semi-final round.
In the semi-finals the San Diego Slam Team faced off against teams from Denver-Mercury, Boston-Cantab, Springfield, and San Francisco. It was a very heated bout, with a wide range of poetry performed for the judges. At the end of the competition, Boston-Cantab stood victorious over the other teams. "The team performed at the top of their game...it was just a case of not having the poetry that the judges wanted to hear," said Chris Wilson (Slam-master/coach).
Although they lost in the semi-final round, the team is holding its head high. "No matter the outcome of the semi-final bout, no one can take away the fact that we made it into the elite ranks of the national poetry scene today," said Ant Black. A sentiment echoed by all the members of the team. Chris Wilson made the point, "We came to Madison expecting to learn the ins and outs and return next year to be competitive. Instead we did all that we intended and made it into the semifinals to compete against the top 20 teams in the nation."
The group piece finals were bananas...teams really used creativity and performance to put their message out there. New York-Urbana won the competition, scoring a perfect score of 60 (30 in each round). Their first piece brought the house down. It was a musical poem reprimanding Rev. Al Sharpton about his actions during the Dunbar Village rape case (story can be found here http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19698132/page/2/). Hopefully it will be posted on youtube or available by video soon.
The team is proud of the way they represented San Diego and the mark they have made on the national poetry scene. In the midst of all the competition there were new friendships made, old friendships strengthened, and lots of pizza eaten. There were over 1,000 poets, coaches, writers, and fans in attendance of the National Poetry Slam 2008. The team met people from France and Vancouver and all points in between. The poetry was really good and gave the team lots of new inpiration.
The San Diego Slam Team would like to thank all of you for your support (poetic and financial). It has been a great experience from start to finish and the team is looking forward to representing San Diego until next spring when the new team is crowned at the San Diego Grand Slam.