College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational

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The College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) is an annual Poetry Slam tournament put on by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) in which teams of four or five college students from different colleges and universities compete against each other. Its location changes every year.

The competitive element is not the primary focus of the event; it is an opportunity for student poets to showcase their art and to develop their writing and presentation skills so as to take advantage of future opportunities in poetry.[1] The event is inclusive, and all students are welcome. [2]


The first CUPSI tournament was organized in 2001 by Robb Thibault. It was held at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Seven teams competed in the first tournament. The number of teams participating in CUPSI has grown since then with 53 teams competing in 2014.[3] The 2016 competition will take place at the University of Texas at Austin on April 6-9.[4]

The increase in attendance coincides with the growth of slam poetry itself. Poets such as Individual World Poetry Slam champion Rudy Francisco have noted a general trend in the prevalence of poetry slam in everyday life.[5]

Several videos of poems performed at CUPSI having gone viral on the internet, including Lily Myers's poem "Shrinking Women", which was viewed by over three million people within a year of its posting,[6] and Patrick Roche's "21," which gained over three million views in its first two weeks after publishing.[7] Poems from CUPSI have been featured on several popular political blogs and news sites, including The Huffington Post,[8] Upworthy,[9] and Jezebel.[10] Many of these videos were filmed and published by Button Poetry.


Teams compete against each other in bouts consisting of four rounds of poetry in which each team sends one poem. The first two days of the tournament are preliminary bouts, and the rankings from these determine which teams advance onto semi-finals. The scores in semi-finals determine who makes Final Stage. Judges are chosen at random from the audience.[11]

CUPSI Poetry Slam Winners By Year[edit]

Year Winner Number of Teams Host School
2019 Pennsylvania State University 58 University of Houston
2018 New York University 65 Temple University
2017 Pennsylvania State University, Montclair State University, Temple University, & New York University (Shared Title) 72 University of Illinois-Chicago
2016 Temple University 67 University of Texas-Austin
2015 New York University 68 Virginia Commonwealth University
2014 University of Texas-Austin 53 University of Colorado-Boulder
2013 New York University 59 Barnard College
2012 New York University 48 University of La Verne
2011 Macalester College 37 University of Michigan
2010 University of Wisconsin-Madison 35 Emerson College
2009 University of Pennsylvania 32 University of Pennsylvania
2008 University of New Mexico 22 University of New Mexico
2007 University of Pennsylvania 18 Eastern Michigan University
2006 University of New Mexico 22 Texas State University-San Marco
2005 University of California-Santa Cruz 20 West Chester University
2004 University of California-Berkeley 20 University of California-Berkeley
2003 University of Arkansas 8 University of Arkansas
2002 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 10 Case Western Reserve University
2001 University of California-Berkeley 7 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Caserta, Lauren. "University welcomes back College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  2. ^ "ACUI Poetry Slam". ACUI. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  3. ^ "History of the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational". ACUI. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  4. ^ "2016 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational".
  5. ^ Mogesq, "Fish". "Slam Champ: Interview with IWPS 2010 Champion Rudy Fransisco". Slam National Newsletter. Archived from the original on December 11, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  6. ^ Young, Robin. "Young Poet's 'Shrinking Women' Goes Viral". Here & Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hanson. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  7. ^ Silbermann, Matthew. "Speaking Frankly: A Heartfelt Poem Goes Viral, Putting Roche '14 in the Spotlight". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  8. ^ "Button Poetry". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  9. ^ "I Normally Wouldn't Tell Other Dudes To Check Out A Group Of Women, But Here's An Exception". UpWorthy.
  10. ^ "J.K. Rowling Taken to Task for Fetishizing Asian Women in Harry Potter". Jezebel.
  11. ^ "Official Rules of the 2015 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational". ACUI. Retrieved December 10, 2014.

External links[edit]

College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational
Association of College Unions International
Button Poetry