All Arizona Poetry Slam

MARICOPA — Top performance poetry competitors will vie for prizes Saturday, March 6 as the All-Arizona Grand Slam! gets underway in Maricopa.

The state-wide championship event will feature in-person performances. Judges and the audience will watch the competition virtually, a press release from event organizers said.

"The All-Arizona Grand Slam! is an exciting war of words for 12 of Arizona's best slam poets from all over the state,  including at least two from the city of Maricopa," the press release said.

Competing poets will perform their own words in three elimination rounds.

"Slams are always immensely engrossing experiences, wrapping a spirited three-round contest around a series of fiercely competitive and exciting mini-theatrical performances done with no costumes, music, or scenery," the press release said.

MAC has held both city and state championships over the past six years in various venues ranging from cafes to Maricopa City Hall.

All MAC's slams are free-speech events and adhere to national slam rules.

Competitors may only perform their own work and can not take more than three minutes per turn. Every performance is rated on a scale of 0 to 10 by a panel of five judges.

By round three only five poets will remain.

First-, second- and third-place competitors will win a cash prize.

The poets will perform live at Maricopa City Hall. Those who wish to watch may do so at no cost on the event page on Facebook, https://fb.me/e/3rT9OueVz.

To ensure the safety of those attending in person, strict COVID-safety guidelines will be followed. A maximum of 20 people will be allowed at city hall.

Those in attendance will be required to wear a mask at all times expect when performing and social distancing will be enforced.

The All-Arizona Grand Slam! is produced by the Maricopa ARTS Council and is sponsored by Nancy Smith, Maricopa vice mayor and city council members Henry Wade and Vincent Manfredi.

Bernard Schober, a poet and ocean conservationist, will preside as slam master in his performance persona, "The Klute."

Schober is well-known to Maricopa audiences as a competitor in various state, regional and national slam events.

"MAC's slams always include a prelude segment of Art-on-the-Spot, celebrating a sister art form," the press release said. "In March the prelude is led by the Shelley Gillespie, executive director of Copa Shorts Film Fest, who will explore their fifth season, devoted to comedy. A previous Copa Shorts winning film will be screened, and Ms. Gillespie will emphasize their 2021 rubric: 'Now, more than ever, our world needs humor and comedy to entertain people.'"

The most recent Maricopa Poetry Slam in November 2020 attracted about 3,000 viewers from around the world, the press release said.

The upcoming All-Arizona Grand Slam! is expected to draw a bigger crowd.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.