Slam Nuba and the Mercury Cafe slam team head to the nationals

For the two highly respected teams Denver sends to the National Poetry Slam each year, the moment of truth has finally arrived: After a year-long process of elimination, the teams have selected their top five poets of the year and are gearing up today to travel all the way to Boston for the big show, where they'll compete with 74 other slam teams from all over the United States and Canada for the ultimate competitive-poetry glory. And those 74 other teams had better watch out, because both Denver teams, Slam Nuba and the Mercury Cafe Slam, are some formidable opponents.

The Merc team is the stalwart of the two: Established in 1999, it's made its name well known in the slam world, most impressively with an outright win in the Nationals from a team that included still-prominent Denver poets Jen Rinaldi, Isis, Panama Soweto, Ken Arkind, and Katie Wirsing.

Some of those winners, in fact, were so amped that they went ahead and created a brand new team: Slam Nuba. That was just a few years ago, of course, and while in the Denver scene Nuba is still the upstart, it's by no means the underdog; besides being good enough for us to name them as one of our 2011 Westword Masterminds, the team has placed in the top ten at Nationals every year since its inception. Still no win -- but maybe this year?

Stay tuned, as the National competition fires up tomorrow and continues through Saturday. But before that happens, you can get a sense of the greatness from Nuba at their send-off show tonight at the Crossroads Theatre at 7:30 p.m., where the group will show off its full and final Nationals repertoire. Cover is a measly $5. Wish them luck!

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte