Point B.L.A.N.K. to take on national competition in April

Micheline Dieujuste-Antoine working on a poem in preparation for CUPSI (College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational).

Carina Plasencia

Micheline Dieujuste-Antoine working on a poem in preparation for CUPSI (College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational).

Elliot James, Staff Writer

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When you think of poetry slams and spoken word, your brain may jump to images of multi-syllabic contortions in dark, hazy rooms. You may think of semi-ironic nodding and snapping. Bongos may come to mind.

When spoken word becomes a competition, the rules change completely.

The Mercer University spoken word club, Point B.L.A.N.K., plans on attending the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) from April 6 to April 9 in Austin, Texas. CUPSI (pronounced Cup-See) is an annual national collegiate event that brings together poetry and spoken word organizations from all over the nation.

This year the Mercer club will be bringing five university students to participate in the competition. The CUPSI competition will be sub-divided into four rounds: the preliminary round, the second preliminary round, the semi-final and the final round.

Each round judges students on quality of performance and time for a total of 30 possible points. Students participating in these rounds are competing for the highest possible score. Those with the highest score move on to the next round.

In April, Mercer students Rebekah Fulton (junior), Sydney Simpson (junior), Tamar Thomas (sophomore), Micheline Antoin (senior) and Ryan Alexander Jones (senior), will all be traveling to Texas by car to participate in the event.

“We were a surprise last year,” said Point B.L.A.N.K. president and Mercer senior, Ryan Alexander Jones. In a phone interview, Jones explained that last year was the club’s first time attending CUPSI in Richmond, Virginia. Although the club fell out of the competition in the semi-final round, nobody anticipated Point B.L.A.N.K. landing a spot in the top 20.

Jones said that they are expecting about 68 schools to compete this year. Some of the heavy hitters will be New York University (NYU) and the University of Texas at Austin.

“NYU puts out a great team every year . . . [and] University of Texas [at] Austin have the home court advantage,” Jones said.

He said that Point B.L.A.N.K is trying to prepare for anyone and everyone.

This year, Point B.L.A.N.K. members who are competing are required to come up with four individual spoken word pieces, and they are working on some group pieces together. Prior to spring break, the club was meeting about twice a week. Now, the club plans to meet about three times a week to work on pieces until the competition starts.

Jones said that he wants club members to work together and not practice by themselves. They will be helping to critique the quality of each other’s work and make sure that everyone is prepared before they leave.

The club has started a free Generosity fundraiser online to help offset the costs of the trip to Texas. So far the club has raised about $800.00 and plans to raise about one thousand dollars more. Two thousand dollars in total would be the ideal amount that the club would like to raise.

Funds raised will go towards vehicle rental costs, extra hotel costs and group meals.

Point B.L.A.N.K. was officially founded at Mercer during the 2014-2015 school year. B.L.A.N.K. is an acronym for Believing Love and Nurturing Knowledge. Although the club is primarily for spoken word, they would like to grow into a larger arts collective.

“[We are] very appreciative of all the support that Mercer [and Macon] has given to us,” Jones said.

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