SPEAK finals take top five to poetry invitational

Ten poets wielded their words as weapons in the fight for a spot in the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational Tuesday at 7 p.m. in The Poetry Center.

Spoken Poetry Expressed By All Kinds, or SPEAK, holds the annual event in search of the five best spoken poets to represent SF State at the CUPSI competition taking place April 6-9 in Austin, Texas.

The five judges listened intently with white boards to scribble a score from one to 10.

“Zero being the worst thing you have ever heard in your entire life, and a 10 is, you just caught the Holy Spirit and you’re in a good place,” event curator Jarvis Deangelo Subia said.

The SPEAK pieces – which touched on race, masturbation and feminism – were a way for the poets to share themselves with the crowded room, Subia said.

Keenan Todd, a senior studying communications at SF State, rebelled against the racial foundations of America in his poem about being black on the Fourth of July.

“On this day, in a country built by you but not for you, you can’t shine,” Todd said.

Kyle Liddle addressed patriarchy with her three poems about heart break, economic gender inequality and rape culture. Liddle was eliminated in the last round.

“Have you ever tried to masturbate with a broken heart?” Liddle asked in her first-round poem.

Kali Ausselet, a freshman journalism major and the highest scorer of the night, read her poem about long-distance relationships. Three of the five judges awarded her a perfect ten.

“In the past two years, the SF State poetry team has landed respectable finishes in CUPSI,”  said SPEAK president Nikki Reynolds. “The team was 38 out of 68 teams last in 2015. The year before, the team placed seven out of 52. We are hoping to return to that top half.”

The final top five were Ausselet, Maddy Marie, Todd, Destiny Evans and Ezra Yampolsky.

“I’m happy to have the preparing process over, but the journey hasn’t even started yet,” Todd said.

The next event is Battle of the Bay.

“(Battle of the Bay is) when we invite the other Bay Area teams going to CUPSI for a friendly competition before the main event,” Reynolds said.

In order to raise the money for contestants to travel to Austin, SPEAK will be setting up a GoFundMe account and will have fundraising events throughout the spring semester, according to Reynolds. Donations from open mic night, held on the first Tuesdays and third Thursdays of each month in The Poetry Center, Humanities Building 512, will also contribute to funding.

“I usually draw my poetry from personal experience,” Ausselet said. “Sometimes I draw from the people I am close to, but mostly myself. That’s what makes real and relevant poetry: When it’s your own.”

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