About BattleBorn Slam:
BattleBorn Slam is an all-ages (adult content) poetry competition held at PublicUs in downtown Las Vegas. Our goal is to bring more awareness to our city’s vibrant culture through poetry. The poetry slam is a competition invented in the 1980s by a Chicago construction worker in which performed poetry is judged by the audience. It was a way to keep people engaged in loud bars & coffee shops.
Founded in the mid 1990s and re-branded by Kari O’Connor and A.J. Moyer in 2012, the BattleBorn Slam was a means to fill a gap seen in a budding arts scene, where creation was abundant, but local poets were not being exposed to national artists (nor local artists who had gone underground). Initially, they held their events at Sunrise Coffee in 2010-11 with help from Hannah Marisahl. In August 2011, the slam relocated to Yayo Taco with the help of RJ Reynolds, the founder and curator of the monthly mini-arts festival Talky Trees. During the time at Yayo Taco, a community meeting was held wherein a name change to BattleBorn Slam was proposed and accepted as a way to honor our state’s history, and a Nevada state flag became a regular fixture of the slam stage. When Yayo Taco suddenly shut down in 2013, the slam relocated to downtown Las Vegas from its university district roots, moving into the Downtown Project owned Learning Village. The slam moved again to The Beat inside Emergency Arts for the 2016 season thanks to a gracious invitation from Jacquelyn Esquivel, and was welcomed to its third downtown location at PublicUs by Lane Olson when The Beat was unexpectedly closed by the building’s ownership.
The creation of BattleBorn Slam helped to anchor an oasis for touring poets that allowed many to come off the road for 4-5 days of shows made possible by the coordination and support of our loving arts community, including Talky Trees (RJ Reynolds), Painters & Poets/The Jam (Erik Amblad, Mundana Ess-Haghabadi, Chuck Meyers, Lee Meyers), Human Experience (Miss Joy, Jeffrey Grindley, Misty Reign), and Word Up! (Megan Milligan, Mark Snyder, & Danna Nordin). During the season, the slam was able to provide significant feedback and critique for poets and helped poets develop their craft through workshops and provided an opportunity for those poets to interact with and impress poets from across North America at the annual National Poetry Slam.
PublicUs is a canteen-style, neighborhood coffeehouse with a chill vibe, plus farm-to-table sandwiches & pastries. Our events cater to people ranging from ages 15-70! Our largest local demographic is aged 25-34. In addition to our twice a month poetry slams, we hold writing workshops, go into classrooms throughout Clark County, publish chapbooks, and compete at the National Poetry Slam every year. The National Poetry Slam is an annual championship tournament, wherein four or five person teams from all over North America gather to compete against each other for the national team title. In its 28th year, the National Poetry Slam (NPS) is a Poetry Slam, Inc. event that brings together hundreds of poets from all over North America, and thousands of audience members. This year there may be a team coming from Australia! The week-long festival is part championship tournament, part poetry summer camp, and part traveling exhibition. NPS is the largest team performance poetry event in the world!
While many exceptional voices have been involved in the slam through its years, we believe this community is more identifiable for its variety & scope of voices more so than for any single poet’s presence. No more than 2 team members have ever been on consecutive slam teams, & no poet has won the Las Vegas Grand Slam more than once.