07Marquis Crowd 3  Our P.L.A.C.E., which stands for Passion, Lives and Creative Experiences, is an arts-based Fayetteville nonprofit. Its mission is to provide opportunity, education, funding and resources to artists to impact society. Under the Our P.L.A.C.E umbrella is a multitude of projects, workshops, events, community drives and more. The Marquis Slam, a poetry competition created and hosted by Eean Tyson, is the longest running program the nonprofit presents. It takes place the first Saturday of every month at the Arts Center.

A poetry slam is a three-round competition where up to 12 poets perform their original work within a three-minute time frame and are then scored by five random judges in the audience. The highest and lowest of the five scores are dropped each round to get the poet’s score for that round. The three scores are then added after the final round to see who wins.

Slam season is from September to August. Poets compete in the local Marquis Slam events September through March in hopes of making the official Marquis Slam Team in April. From there, the Slam Team competes regionally and nationally in June and August.

Since its creation in September 2012, The Marquis Slam has been a monthly staple in the poetry community of Fayetteville. Month after month, people come from all across Cumberland County and surrounding areas to enjoy an evening of food, fun, music and, most importantly, poetry.

At each event, The Marquis Slam features a poet before the slam to prime the audience. Poets from around the country have graced the stage and made The Marquis Slam an experience like no other in town.

This month’s event takes place Jan. 5 and features Harlem’s own, Joan “Lyric” Leslie. Now residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Lyric is known for her works of self discovery and self-love, all while using humor and wit to captivate her audience. Her book “My Blackness Rhymes with Joy” showcases her journey through love, healing, justice and the reclamation of black joy.

Ashlee Connors, a local poet, author and threetime Marquis Slam Team member, said each year on the team was different. Of her first year, Connors said, “Making the team — a team — for the first time ever was the reward. It’s a meeting of the minds that everyone speaks on. Every single year there has been a new member on the team, and that is rewarding by itself.”

Of her second and third year, she said, “Once you make the team, that’s when the real work begins. Now you are challenged to write from different perspectives and be open to the critiques. The team overall wants to push you to be better”.

The event’s creator, Tyson, not only hosts the show, he also coaches the Slam Team once it is formed. He leads them in competitions both regionally and nationally. For seven seasons, The Marquis Slam team, under Tyson’s leadership, has traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana; Greenville, South Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; Greensboro, North Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; and San Antonio, Texas, to compete regionally at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam. The team has also traveled to Oakland, California; Decatur, Georgia; and Denver, Colorado; to compete at the National Poetry Slam.

Every first Saturday, make your way to the Arts Center at 301 Hay St. in downtown Fayetteville for an evening of poetry like no other in the city. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Admission in $10. Food is available for purchase.

To learn more about Our P.L.A.C.E and The Marquis Slam, visit www.welcome2ourplace.org. Send inquiries to ourplacenpo@gmail.com or on Facebook and Instagram at Our P.L.A.C.E NPO and The Marquis Slam.

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