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The Merc Slam Team's Suzi Q. Smith opens strong at the Slam Nationals, Denver teams advance

Slam poetry is to the literary world what hip-hop music is to jazz -- a progression of talent and a revolutionary outlet. Denver is lucky to boast of two solid teams that compete nationally. Both Slam Nuba and the Denver Mercury Cafe Poetry Slam Team advanced to the semi-finals last night at the National Poetry Slam taking place in Boston and Cambridge, MA.

There are officially 72 teams in the competition, and both Denver teams are in the top 20. Suzi Q. Smith, of the Mercury Cafe's team, took first place in the first bout, with her poem "Lazarus."

"Winning the first bout was so exciting! It definitely felt validating, like the work we've been doing individually for years in addition to the work we've done as a team this summer was received and appreciated," Smith says, noting that the team has since advanced to the semi-finals after taking on Ft. Worth. "I went first with 'Lazarus', then we sent up two group pieces and a poem from Shane Romero about LeBron James and Oscar Grant. We took the two in our bout last night, battling it out with Fort Worth, who Slam Nuba had squeezed a victory past by a tenth of a point the night before. The great thing about it is that we are all -- Ft Worth included -- going on to semi-finals."

Not only was the win exhilarating , Smith says, but the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of talent is a great reward. "The team has been a great experience for all of us, growing through the challenges and stretching past our comfort zones. Our time is one of the most diverse that I have ever seen, and none of us have ever worked together before (with the exception of myself and coach Bianca Mikahn, who have co-coached in the past)."

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The Mercury Cafe team consists of Megan Rickman, Trevor Byrne- Smith, Paulie Lipman, Shane Romero and Suzi Q. Smith, and is coached by both Bianca Mikahn and Ian Dougherty. The competition continues tonight for the final four.

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