Published: March 6, 2014

Junior Kaleena Kovach is ready for the competition to begin. On Friday, March 7, she will be one of 10 CU-Boulder student poets competing in the 11th annual CU Poetry Slam. The following week she will take her poetry talent to the stage during the 2014 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational March 12–15. Both slams will be in the Glenn Miller Ballroom.

Different than “open mic” nights where poets sit and recite their poems to a quiet audience, slams thrive on audience reaction and participation, according to Kovach.

“This is not your grandpa’s poetry,” said Kovach, an English and creative writing major. “I encourage people to come check it out, it is completely different than what most people expect. It has a performance element as well as the creative writing side of poetry. It’s definitely not somebody sitting in a chair for 15 minutes rambling on.”

Kovach’s interest in poetry began in high school in Colorado Springs, where she also was involved in theater. What drew her to poetry slamming was the mix of performance and creative writing.

“There is a lot of emotion and audience interaction,” she said.

Before Friday’s slam begins, five audience members will be chosen as judges for the competition. When all is said and done, a new CU Poetry Slam Champion will be crowned.

Previous winners have gone on to audition and join professional poetry slam teams in Denver, with one former champion even winning a poetry slam in New Zealand while studying abroad.

More than 50 teams of collegiate poets will compete in the 2014 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. All of the bouts leading up to the finals are free and open to the public. Tickets ($5 for students and $7 for the public) are required for the finals, which will be held on March 15, beginning at 7 p.m.