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Next week, I will be in Boston with five young artists who are representing Sedona at the 24th annual National Poetry Slam. From across the United States and Canada, local communities select their best performance poets and send 72 teams of five poets to Nationals, with the host city changing every year.

The 2013 Sedona National Poetry Slam Team: from left, Verbal Kensington, Frank O'Brien, Josh Wiss, Valence and Ryan BrownSedona’s second National Poetry Slam Team was selected after a year’s worth of poetry slams.

News Editor Christopher Fox GrahamBeginning in October, poets from all over Arizona came to Sedona to perform monthly at the now-defunct Studio Live. At each competition, residents and tourists in the audience were randomly selected to judge the artists’ work on the stage.

For the judges, no other requirements are needed except the ability to write down a number based on how strongly each poem could elicit emotion.

The top 12 poets were asked to compete at the Grand Slam on June 1 at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre. Again, random members of the audience were selected to judge the performance — based on the content of their work and the skill of their on-stage presentation. At the end of the night, the community of Sedona had chosen its team, the second it has sent to Nationals.

Although the Sedona Performing Artist Alliance, local poetry lovers and I organize and host the local slams, the poets heading to Boston and Cambridge, Mass., next week are very much your team.

Residents chose the top poets throughout the season, before again selecting five lucky and talented members to represent Sedona before the nationwide audience. Your representatives are:

  • Ryan Brown, a member of several teams from the Flagstaff poetry scene.
  • Verbal Kensington, a first-time national competitor.
  • Frank O’Brien, who will be representing Sedona for the second time.
  • Josh Wiss, another two-time Sedona team member.
  • Tyler Sirvinskas, who slams under the moniker Valence, and also represents Sedona for his second time.

The team faces some stiff competition from other top-notch wordsmiths, but Sedona’s poets are among the best in Arizona, and they recently took second place out of an eight-team field at the state’s Copperstate Poetry Slam in Phoenix last month.

On their behalf, I want to thank you, the residents of Sedona for giving these five poets the opportunity to represent our community at the National Poetry Slam.

Christopher Fox Graham

News Editor

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