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Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Verselandia! Youth Poetry Slam Championship

On April 23, 2023, 21 students from 11 high schools competed for the title of Grand Slam Champion at the annual Verselandia! Youth Poetry Slam Championship.

Our top five poets were: in fifth place, Imanuel Rehana of Parkrose High School; in fourth place, Dani Gollier of Grant High School; in third place, Princess Fletcher of McDaniel High School; in second place, Bena Rodecap of Grant High School; and our 2023 Verselandia! Grand Slam Champion is Kennedy Phillips of Parkrose High School. This was Kennedy’s first slam poetry competition and the only poet of the night to score a perfect 10 from one of the judges!

Applaud the poets!

Verselandia! is a celebration of Portland’s youth poets: a Grand Slam competition for winners of individual poetry slams held throughout the year by area public high school librarians. The championship event was held at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and was hosted by Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani. This year’s judges were Portland business lawyer and non-profit leader Gustavo (Tavo) Gustavo J. Cruz, Jr.; choreographer, arts advocate, and former Creative Laureate of Portland Subashini Ganesan; poet, professional teaching artist and somatic therapist Mindy Nettifee; author and poetry slam champion Jae Nichelle; and Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and composer Esperanza Spalding

Verselandia! has the same rules as national poetry slams: Students’ poetry must be original work, each performance cannot exceed three minutes, and poets cannot use any props, costumes, or music. Verselandia judges use a scale of one to ten, rating both the writing and the performance on a scale of one to ten. Our top five winners receive cash prizes.

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