If you want poetry sans pretense, look to the youth.
That’s Sal Treppiedi‘s firmly held belief. Treppiedi, the founder of VE=NT: Voices Emerging=New Thunder Middle School Poetry Slam, is out to prove young poets can impress. He knows the slammers who take the stage during VE=NT are unlike many of their adult counterparts. “You’re going to get poetry in its purest form,” Treppiedi says. “These kids aren’t doing this to get the perfect score; they’re writing for the sake of writing and it’s very organic.”
More than 50 students from nine schools in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Los Lunas will compete on teams of between four and six students. Even though the winning team gets a trophy, Treppiedi says he marvels at the students’ lack of concern for who finishes on top. "They bring poetry first and a sense of competition second,” Treppiedi says. “That's refreshing to see.”
Onlookers expecting unpolished poetry are in for a surprise—these competitors bring the proverbial noise. “It's awe-inspiring,” Treppiedi says. “You won’t find passion like this at any other slam.”
VE=NT kicks off Saturday, April 26, at 1 p.m. inside the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The free event is emceed by Albuquerque slam poet Danny Solis and KUNM Children’s Radio Hour host Katie Stone. The students’ work will be scored by a panel of celebrity judges, including members of the Blackout Theatre Company, local Latin music mainstays Nosotros, and 93.3 KOB FM DJ and singer-songwriter Leah Black, among others.