She sighs. "If you haven't noticed, slam is a soap opera."

And that soap opera is about to put Denver center stage. To become the site of a national competition, a city must enter a bid as though the festival were the Olympics. In late 2009, Smith and a handful of organizers put their heads together and decided to go for a smaller, more manageable festival, the Women of the World Poetry Slam, but their bid was rejected. The next year, though, they won the right to hold the Women of the World contest in Denver in March 2012.

For the better part of a year, Smith and her colleagues have been hunting down financial supporters and places to put the performers. Although only twelve women compete in a single bout, the festival will hold three rounds simultaneously — at Eden, the Mercury and Leela's. On March 10, the final round at the Denver Art Museum will crown the country's female slam champion.

Suzi Q. Smith takes on the role of Method Man with Lady Wu-Tang.
Suzi Q. Smith takes on the role of Method Man with Lady Wu-Tang.
Suzi Q. Smith's twelve-year-old daughter, Kai, is her greatest inspiration.
Suzi Q. Smith's twelve-year-old daughter, Kai, is her greatest inspiration.

"It's a good thing I've got a lot of hair," Smith says, "because some of it definitely got pulled out."

The festival is a huge project and an important one, given its recognition of female poets, but it's just a first step. For Denver, it's a chance to prove that the city is ready to host the nationals. Soon.

Some in the local scene worry that Denver might not be ready to stage such a large event, that it doesn't have enough full-time poets — or a large enough audience. But Smith dismisses those concerns.

"I don't think poets have weaknesses," she says. "It's just something you haven't done yet."

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10 comments
52eighty
52eighty

a better article can be written to shine on Suzi without weaving a mythology that disses Slam Nuba...

I mean, c'mon - "national haiku champion"? Really? Is there also a national limerick champ? As good as Suzi is (and she is good), she hasn't been able to crack the Slam Nuba lineup in the past few years, so the article's portrayal of her affiliation with Slam Nuba is pretty exaggerated - albeit a good coat-tail strategy on her part...

You can do better, Westword.

Surely?

MissJessica
MissJessica

Way to go Suzi Q, love you little sis!

Laura Bond
Laura Bond

Thanks for the story, Westword. Suzi Q is a force of nature. This story will be yet another source of inspiration to the young people whose hearts and minds she reaches through her work. Also great to see The Minor Disturbance Youth Poetry team as recipients of a MasterMind. Lots of poetry, and inspired poetic people, in this issue!

Jellybean Jones
Jellybean Jones

That's my girl! If you haven't heard her yet, you're missing something powerful. <3

Mizz303
Mizz303

Suzi is awesome. I was excited to read the article.

Msbec303
Msbec303

She's simply amazing and dynamic...I'm so proud of her.

SayWhat
SayWhat

Suzi is a singular and amazing talent - but the team that won the championship this year did not include her - I am sure that the actual championship members are a bit insulted by the headline

hidingbehindscreennames
hidingbehindscreennames

@52eighty clearly you need to do some fact checking, and don't know much about Suzi. But she's not hard to find if you want to clear it up.

calhounp
calhounp

The headline refers to the national championship that will be in Denver next month. Definitely no insult intended for the Slam Nuba team, which last year won a Westword MasterMind award.

Kelsey W.
Kelsey W.

The headline refers to the Women of the World Poetry Slam coming here in March. (You're right, she was on the Merc team.)

 
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