While the Southeastern Regional North Carolina Poetry Festival will not be returning to Fayetteville this fall, the annual poetry slam will be.
LeJuane “El’Ja” Bowens, founder and CEO of Poetry-N-Motion, helped create the slam eleven years ago with other poets, like Neil Ray, from the community who wanted to bring recognition to Fayetteville poetry because they had been doing it for so long.
“It seemed like Fayetteville was not getting recognized for poetry across the state or just abroad. So [Ray] wanted to do something to show that recognition. So he came up with the idea of going to do something like a poetry weekend,”
Following that, Bowens decided to turn the whole weekend into a festival that has been running for the past ten years.
Now, Bowens is returning back to SERNC roots by just having the poetry slam once again.
“Just let everybody know the slam is still here. We're still going to bring poets from across the country to come compete here in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and we're still going to have a good time. Still a great competition. Just that we're not doing the festival aspect any longer of it.”
The slam will be a competition between 14 poets who are coming from across the country.
“And this year I believe is the most diverse group of poets that we have coming because we have poets not only from North Carolina, that's gonna be here, obviously a few from Fayetteville, but we also got poets coming from Ohio, New York, Florida, South Carolina and I wanna say Virginia,” Bowens told Up & Coming Weekly.
“So this will probably be the most diverse group of poets we've had since the inception because we have them coming from a lot of different states, which makes it even more exciting to have this happen.”
The winner of the slam will receive an award of $1,000.
The rules of the slam are simple: each poem must be original, each poet gets three minutes to read one poem, and the poet may not use props, costumes or musical instruments. There will be five judges. Of the scores the poet receives, the highest and lowest scores will be dropped, and the middle three will be added together, giving the poet a total score ranging from 0 to 30.
Bowens does warn that the performances will cover a range of topics, including social issues and personal experiences, so think twice about bringing children.
“So if anyone does come to the event and they decide to bring their children, they should be prepared that there may be some strong content or language that may be produced at this slam. Nothing too vulgar or nothing too demeaning towards any race, religion, creed or anything of that nature, but there will be language involved probably in some of the poems.”
The slam will take place at the Arts Council of Fayetteville on Saturday, Sept. 23. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m.
General admission tickets are on sale now for $10. Tickets can be bought at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/11th-annual-southeastern-regional-nc-poetry-slam-tickets-695006121017.