Hawaii Slam

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Hawaii Slam Poetry
Genres Slam Poetry
Spoken word
Performance Poetry
Website Official Site

Hawai'i Slam (a.k.a. HawaiiSlam) is a certified poetry slam that was founded on April 3, 2003 by Hawaii's Poet Laureate Kealoha.[1] Hawai'i Slam is responsible for the First Thursdays Poetry Slam at Fresh Cafe, which is the largest registered/certified slam poetry venue in the world (with 500+ in attendance).[2] Hawai`i Slam has official 501(c)(3) non-profit status through Poetry Slam Incorporated.[3]

First Thursdays occurs on every first Thursday of the month (8:30pm at Fresh Cafe) and features Hawaii's best performance poets, live musicians, live painters, and touring poets. The best spoken word poets from First Thursdays qualify for the Hawai'i Slam Team, which is determined once a year in April. This team competes in festivals on the mainland (including the National Poetry Slam) and also does numerous shows and school visits (assemblies, workshops, etc.) throughout the state of Hawaii. In the 12 years that the Hawai'i Slam Team has represented Hawaii at the National Poetry Slam, they have made it to the group piece finals once, semifinals five times and final stage once (placing 2nd out of 72 teams in 2015).[4]

In 2006, Hawai'i Slam and First Thursdays won the Best Open Mic Award in the Best of Honolulu Magazine.[5]

Mission and Highlights[edit]

The mission of First Thursdays is to provide a platform for all poets who wish to set foot on its stage and share their words. It also strives to expose its audience to touring poets, musicians, artists, and DJ's by hosting a special guest feature at each show.

Past features have included touring poets (Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Beau Sia, Buddy Wakefield, Sekou tha Misfit, Oveous Maximus, Andrea Gibson, Anis Mojgani, Mighty Mike McGee, Robbie Q. Telfer, Tshaka Campbell, Michelle "Mush" Lee, Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo, Danny Sherrard, Angelo Moore from Fishbone), musical groups (Quadraphonix, Henry Kapono, Makana, John Cruz, Full Blown Soul, Sewa Fare, Jennifer Johns, the Genie, Jake Shimabukuro, Tempo Valley, Scott George Huckabay), theatre productions (Chase, Jaguar Priests, Hip-hopalypse), the Waikiki B-boys, Capoeira Senzala, the Tales From the Arabian Nights troupe, Shakti Dance Movement (bellydancing troupe), and fashion shows by Urban Nomad and Priya.

Past DJs have included Zita (Sisters in Sound), Kavet the Catalyst (Lightsleepers), Skid (Hawaii ITF Champion), Taharba/Sovern-T (Treehaus), Frank(E) from the Beathackers Kollectiv, Primmitiv (RGU), Chia (SIS), Oliver Twist, Celine (RGU), Toki (SIS), A2Z (Microscopic Syllables), Rebelgirl (RGU), Chris Sabien, Marloca (SIS), Monkey, Mega Supras, DJ Mr. Nick, and Risup (Direct Descendants).

Past visual artistry has included live painting by Aaron Martin, Solomon Enos, Kimi Werner, Adriano Ferraz, Elisha Kemp, Matt DeMartino, Erin McCullough, the Storekeeper, Dhyana Zagri, Stanstill, Wes Ka`uhane, Pancho Abalos, Carol Tagawa, and Nabahe. There have also been interactive murals by Progress Hawaii and visual projections by SYTE Entertainment, Elea Dumas, and Solomon Enos. Hawai`i Slam's First Thursdays has even had massage therapists, chefs (Ono Pono got its start there), and psychic readers sharing their art forms in the lounges.[6]

Hawaii Slam Grand Slam Finals[edit]

Each April, Hawaii Slam invites the top 12 poets of the previous year (winners and runners-up from the 6 qualifying slams) to compete in a 3-round elimination bout for spots on the Hawaii Slam team. Each summer the Hawaii Slam team travels to the National Poetry Slam to compete against teams from approximately 75 other cities. The Hawaii Slam finals bouts are consistently the biggest event of the Hawaii Slam year, with upwards of 700 people in attendance.

In 2004, Hawaii Slam finals were held at Studio1, hosted by Hawaiian Ryan, with featured guest Angelo Moore (from Fishbone). Finalists for the first Hawaii Slam finals included Adele, Josh Echemendia, Lumenz, TravisT, Melvin Borja, Serious Wit, Selah Geissler, JME, Rebelgirl, Intrepid, and Kealoha. The 2004 Hawaii Slam team was Selah Geissler, Kealoha, Melvin Borja, and TravisT. They competed at the National Poetry Slam in St. Louis, MO in August, 2004.

In 2005, Hawaii Slam finals were held at the Hawaiian Hut, hosted by See, with featured guest poets from Youth Speaks Hawai`i and the Mega Supras. The finalists included Hawaiian Ryan, Omega6, TravisT, Melvin Borja, Intrepid, Brenda Kwon, Selah Geissler, Serious Wit, Kealoha, Cawa Tran, Jaz Davis, and Josh Echemendia. The 2005 Hawaii Slam team was Selah Geissler, Kealoha, Melvin Borja, and TravisT. They competed at the National Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, NM in August, 2005.

In 2006, Hawaii Slam finals were held at the Hawaiian Hut, hosted by Intrepid, with featured guest Sekou tha Misfit. The finalists included See, Melvin Borja, Josh Echemendia, Hina Puamohala Kneubuhl, Kealoha, Paula Fuga, Jess Kroll, TravisT, Malena Brooks, and Jay Kaneaiakala.[7] The 2006 Hawaii Slam team was Melvin Borja, TravisT, Kealoha, and See. They competed at the National Poetry Slam in Austin, TX in August, 2006.

In 2007, Hawaii Slam finals were held at the Hawaiian Hut, hosted by See and Intrepid, with featured guest Big Poppa E. The finalists included Pam, Aaron, Dazsmar, TravisT, Lyz Soto, Jahsun, Stri, Skye White, Kealoha, Dar'ron, Pat Masumoto, and Melvin Borja. The 2007 Hawaii Slam team was Lyz Soto, Kealoha, Dar'ron and Stri. They competed at the National Poetry Slam in Austin, TX in August, 2007.

The 2008, Hawaii Slam finals were held at the Hawaiian Hut, hosted by See, with featured guest Sekou tha Misfit. The finalists included Sela, Kealoha, Lyz Soto, Tui "Tui-Z" Scanlan, TravisT, Jay Kaneaiakala, Intrepid, Alex Armstrong, Dar'ron, Stri, Liam Skilling, & Vince Murai. The 2008 Hawaii Slam team was Kealoha, Dar'ron, Tui-Z, and TravisT. They competed at the National Poetry Slam in Madison, WI in August, 2008.

In 2009, Hawaii Slam finals were held at Pipeline Cafe, hosted by See, with featured guest Anis Mojgani. The finalists were Will Giles, Danny Sherrard, Kealoha, Lyz Soto, Bridget Gray, Jason B, TravisT, Free Write, Dar'ron, Rob Words, Tui-Z, and Dakini Star. The 2009 Hawaii Slam team was Kealoha, Dar'ron, Tui-Z, and Danny Sherrard. They competed at the National Poetry Slam in West Palm Beach, FL in August, 2009.

In 2010, Hawaii Slam finals were held at Fresh Cafe, hosted by Intrepid with featured guest "Mighty" Mike McGee. The finalists were Harrison Ines, Jocelyn Ng, Sterling Higa, Ittai Wong, Kealoha, Dr. D, Bridget Gray, Tui-Z, Forgotten Artform, Son da One, Jonra, and Jess Kroll. The 2010 Hawaii Slam team was Sterling Higa, Jocelyn Ng, Tui-Z, Jess Kroll, and Forgotten Artform. They competed at the National Poetry Slam in St. Paul, MN in August, 2010.

In 2011, Hawaii Slam finals were held at Fresh Cafe, hosted by Kealoha with featured guest Bluz. The finalists were Bridget Gray, TravisT, Ink, Jess Kroll, Sterling Higa, Ari Kalani Katz, Jocelyn Ng, Noa (without an H), Tui-Z, Kahokule`a Haiku, Intrepid, Hong Guang Pyo. The 2011 Hawaii Slam team was Bridget Gray, Sterling Higa, TravisT, Hong Guang Pyo, and Ink. They competed at the National Poetry Slam in Boston, MA in August, 2011.

In 2012, Hawaii Slam finals were held at Fresh Cafe, hosted by Kealoha with featured guests Joaquin Zihuatanejo and Natasha Carrizosa. The finalists were Hong Guang Pyo, Tui-Z, Serena Simmons, Drew Imagination, Ink, Jason Tom, Solomon, Champ, Rob Words, Sterling Higa, Liam Skilling, and Jenna Robinson. The 2012 Hawaii Slam team was Liam Skilling, Tui-Z, Jenna Robinson, Sterling Higa, and Ink. They competed at the National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, NC in August, 2012.

In 2013, Hawaii Slam finals were held at Fresh Cafe, hosted by Kealoha with featured guest "Mighty" Mike McGee. The finalists were Jocelyn Ng, Ink, Jesse Lipman, Samson Tafolo, Melvin WonPat-Borja, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Rob Words, Tui-Z, Harrison Ines, Jon Fukui, Serena Simmons, and Liam Skilling. The 2013 Hawaii Slam team was Liam Skilling,... They competed at the National Poetry Slam in Boston, MA in August, 2013.

In 2014, Hawaii Slam finals were held at Fresh Cafe, hosted by Kealoha. The finalists were Noa Helela, Sterling Higa, Jenna Robinson, Will Giles, Sam Skeist, Jesse Lipman, Samson Tafolo, Eli Litzelman, Hong Guang Pyo, Christian Tautua, Jocelyn Ng, and Tui-Z. The 2014 Hawaii Slam team was Jenna Robinson, Tui-Z, Sam Skeist, Sterling Higa, and Will Giles. They placed fifth at the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, CA in August, 2014.

In 2015, Hawaii Slam finals were held at Fresh Cafe, hosted by Kealoha. The finalists were Noa Helelā, TravisT, Sam Skeist, Simply Tee, Jesse Lipman, Will Giles, Destiny Sharion, Sterling Higa, Eli Litzelman, Chavis Wilkins, Jenna Robinson and Jason Tom. The 2015 Hawaii Slam team was Jenna Robinson, Will Giles, Travis T, Simply Tee and Sam Skeist. They placed second at the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, CA in August, 2015.

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