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Slam Nuba is an award-winning performance poetry event based in Denver, Colorado, USA. Originated in 2006 as a program of the Pan African Arts Society and certified by Poetry Slam, Inc., Slam Nuba has become a collective of many of the nation's finest poets.
Slam Nuba holds its poetry events at Cafe Nuba, and they major slam at The Crossroads Theater, both located in the Five Points neighborhood in Denver.
The National Poetry Slam is the largest team performance poetry event in the world. Teams from all over North America and a few from other countries converge in a different city every summer for five days of poetry, revelry, and competition.
In 2007, the Denver Slam Nuba team placed fourth in the United States. In 2008, Slam Nuba won two separate regional bouts including the Southwest Shoot Out Poetry Slam in Dallas, Texas, and The Denver 40 ounce Poetry Slam. Slam Nuba competed at The National Poetry Slam in Madison, Wisconsin in 2008 and made it to semifinals for the second successive year. In 2011, the Slam Nuba team won The Nation Poetry Slam Championship.
Slam Nuba was conceived by Ashara Ekundayo, Ken Arkind and Panama Soweto. Café Nuba, Denver's premier monthly poetry showcase, had been a registered Poetry Slam, Inc. venue for several years and had never sent a team to the National Poetry Slam. With the support of the community Slam Nuba was created for the purpose of representing the versatility of Denver's poetry scene under its parent organization of Café Nuba.
Slam Nuba is a registered program of a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization meaning that their funds are from donations and fundraising. This keeps the group close to Denver and helps further the sense of community in the metropolitan area.
The team has performed in many places outside of poetry slam including an event hosted by Democracy Now, sharing a stage with Amy Goodman, opening for recording artists Les Nubians, sharing a stage with the hip-hop group Dead Prez, and at such local events as Denver's Black Arts Festival, The Poet As Muse, Club Reign, and Café Cultura.
In 2007, its first year of competing, Slam Nuba had four competing members, Jai Harris, Bobby Lefebre, Panama Soweto, and Lucifury (Theo Wilson). Suzi Q. Smith was the team's founder and Slam Master (organizer and manager), and Bianca Mikahn Shaw was the team's coach. Most of the team were rookie slammers yet they won several regional bouts including the Lincoln, Nebraska Invitational and the Dallas Invitational Poetry Slam.
During a week of events at The National Poetry Slam 2007, Lucifury won the Erotic Poetry Slam and earned the coveted title of "Most Erotic Slam Poet in the Nation." Throughout team finals, Slam Nuba placed fourth in the United States out of a possible 75 teams.
2008 saw a change for Slam Nuba. Several of the previous teams members remained but a few new ones were added to the troupe. Bobby Lefebre, Panama Soweto, Lucifury, Original Woman, and Ayinde Russell represented Slam Nuba during the 2008 slam season. Suzi Q. Smith left their ranks as Slam Master, but Bobby Lefebre and Panama Soweto picked up where she had left off. Bianca Mikahn remained on as coach.
During the 2008 season, the team won a variety of tournaments and performed at a wide range of venues in the Denver area, including the wrap up party for DNC (Democratic National Convention) volunteers. The team was also featured in an article in El Semanario, Denver's weekly Latino newspaper.
Slam Nuba won the Flagstaff "Win and You're In" bout, a match they needed to clinch a spot at the national competition, The 2008 South West Shoot Out Poetry Slam, and The Denver 40 Ounce Invitational Slam. The team won both of their preliminary bouts at the national event, then came second in the semifinals bout to team Austin Egos and tied with the team from Hollywood.
In 2009, the poets representing Slam Nuba on a national level were Bobby Lefebre, Ken Arkind, Panama Soweto, The Original Woman, and Lucifury, joined by their coach Suzi Q. Smith. Amy Everhart, who was to join the Slam Nuba team the following year, won the Individual World Poetry Slam. The 2010 team was coached by Lucifury and added to the team Jen Rinaldi, Jovan Mays, Megan Rickman, and Amy Everhart. Lucifury ranked fifth in the 2009 Individual World Poetry Slam. Amy Everhart was the Individual World Poetry Slam Champion of 2009.
The 2011 SlamNUBA team, consisting of Theo "Lucifury" Wilson, Brando Chemtrails, Ayinde Russell, Jovan Mays Dominique Christina and Mikena Richardson, and coached by Jen Rinaldi, won the 2011 Nation Slam Poetry Championship.
Slam Nuba is involved in community development throughout Denver. Several of the poets in the organization are youth mentors and advocates. The group believes that a strong community can be determined by the contributions of its teachers, laborers and artists. This belief has led the group to work with other non-profit organizations and volunteer a great deal of their time to neighborhood enrichment. Panama Soweto states, "Poetry is a very important tool, it can expire the anguish in our souls and solicit the best from our hearts."
Slam Nuba coached by veteran Jen Rinaldi, won the 2011 National Poetry Slam Championship in Boston, Massachusetts. Performing at the Berklee School of Music in front of more than 2,500 people, Slam Nuba won the national title. Team members Dominique Ashaheed and Ayinde Russell performed a duet piece called Amandla about the resistance movement in South Africa, putting the team more than a point ahead, by incorporating South African songs and exuberant messages about fighting barbarism with beauty. In the second round, Theo "Lucifury" Wilson, performed a poem entitled Dark Jester which deals with the ways in which brilliant black performers were made into minstrels. In the third round the team sealed the victory with a complicated quintet piece about chain gangs in the south. The poem involved old work songs, choreography, and biting lines that ranged from personal commentaries that embodied the voices of the men who languished on chain gangs as well as social commentary about the ways in which Black men still negotiate similar circumstances in present-day America. The last round was performed by Brando.
Also in 2011, SlamNUBA was inducted to the Denver Westword's Mastermind Class of 2011.
The 2011 SlamNUBA team consisted of Theo Wilson, Brando Chemtrails, Ayinde Russell, Jovan Mays, Dominique Johnson and Mikena Richardson. The 2011 team were the Southwest Shootout Regional Competition champions and the Utah Arts Festival Slam Champions.
- MasterMinds: Slam Nuba, Denver poets Westword, 2011-02-15.