Slam Poetry Team Finishes in Top 10 at Global Competition

black vintage pen tip graphic with MSU Slam Poetry underneath

MSU’s Slam Poetry Team, which includes four College of Arts & Letters students, competed at the 2018 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and finished in the top 10 overall out of 65 teams.

The MSU team, coached by Detroit poet Natasha Miller, competed in two preliminaries, made it to the semi-finals, and placed ninth overall at the four-day competition, which took place April 4-7.

The MSU Slam Poetry Team included:

  • Grace Carras, senior Arts and Humanities major
  • Abbie Crick, junior English major and Citizen Scholar
  • Marc Goldberg, senior Japanese major
  • Patiense Mackenzie, freshman English major
  • Xavier Cuevas, sophomore undecided major

“CUPSI is competition and a community all at the same time,” Crick said. “The competition centers the best college poets from around the world (yes world) who form teams from their respective institutions. We come together, see who’s the best, and learn from each other along the way.”

For Crick, competing at CUPSI was a life-long dream come true.

group of people posing while presenting poetry
MSU’s Slam Poetry Team that competed at the 2018 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational.
From left to right: Marc Goldberg, Patiense Mackenzie, Abbie Crick, Grace Carras, and Xavier Cuevas. 

“Competing in this competition has been a dream of mine since I was in middle school,” she said. “For college poets, this is the Super Bowl. I remember being young watching videos of the competition online and just being awestruck at how powerful and talented these poets were. I had always worked and wrote hoping someday to be able to compete on stages that big. To actually be able to attend and compete was incredible. It was fulfilling a life-long dream for me. It was also a chance to tell my stories on an international platform.”

During the past few years, the mid-Michigan slam poetry scene has been revitalized, according to Crick.

“The MSU Slam Team is bigger and better than ever, and the larger Lansing slam community is growing through organizations like The Poetry Room,” Crick said. “More than ever, we all have things to say and slam gives us a voice for that. CUPSI is an opportunity to show all you have to give to the art and to see what others are doing as well.”

Competing in this competition has been a dream of mine since I was in middle school. For college poets, this is the Super Bowl.


The MSU Slam Poetry Team was able to make the trip to CUPSI thanks to the support the team received from the Citizen Scholars programMSU Department of EnglishResidential College of the Arts and Humanities, and the individuals who donated to their GoFundMe account.

“We are incredibly grateful to the communities that made it possible for us to go to this event, and to all the Lansing and Detroit Poetry communities that made our dreams a reality. We couldn’t have done any of this without the immense support network we have,” Crick said. “This really is a win for everyone involved in any way, and we were so proud to be able to represent MSU at CUPSI.”

CUPSI is an annual poetry slam tournament that is hosted by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI).

If you are interested in being part of the MSU Slam Poetry Team, send them an email or check out their Facebook page.