St. Paul's Soapboxing poetry slam team wins nationals

Kyle Myhre

Kyle Myhre

St. Paul's Soapboxing poetry slam team - a group of five poets chosen by a season-long competition held monthly at Artist's Quarter - has won the 2009 National Poetry Slam. The Twin Cities slam scene has grown to national prominence over the past three years, and can now officially claim five of the country's finest slam poets among its number: Khary Jackson, Michael Mlekoday, Kyle Myhre, Sierra DeMulder, and alternate Jenn Parks.

The Soapboxing team has been on the cusp of a breakthrough for the last two years, placing 15th and 13th in 2007 and 2008 at NPS, respectively. Matthew Rucker, the team's coach, says hard work is responsible for the leap to the number one spot.

He also credits the team's decision to continue training together immediately after the 2008 Nationals. There was no guarantee that the same poets would earn a spot on the team in 2009 (each season poets must compete for their spots), but luckily the gamble and the time spent training together paid off when the team's roster remained unchanged this year.

Rucker also admits that the poor economy likely had some effect on the group's success - traveling to nationals costs money, and poets aren't known for abundant wealth even in the best of times.

"A lot of teams couldn't afford to go so they backed out," he said. "A lot of big-time veteran poets didn't compete this year either, so you had really strong teams traditionally that weren't as strong."

He's quick to point out that the economy's just one factor among many, however. "Even if all the other teams had been just as strong, we would've gone all the way. I've never seen a poetry slam where so many people said, 'You guys deserved to win.'"