Association News

Macalester College takes first place at 2011 CUPSI
April 9, 2011

ANN ARBOR, MICH. — On April 9, four teams battled in the final round of the 11th annual College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Poets from each team took the stage at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, offering their best performances to the audience. But only one school would prevail as the winner: Macalester College.

The 2011 CUPSI was hosted by ACUI and the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, home to the first-ever event in 2001. Thirty-seven teams and nearly 200 student poets embarked on the University of Michigan campus for the event, the highest attendance to date.

“The best part about CUPSI 2011 for me was seeing more than 240 students, including noncompeting attendees, from 37 colleges around the nation building community and finding common ground through the art of performance poetry,” Robb Thibault, Poetry Slam Program Team leader, said. “The notion that ‘everyone’s voice is welcomed’ shined through. Lives were changed as people unplugged from their networked gadgets and plugged into each other.”

From the first night of preliminary rounds, the competition was stiff. Several preliminary bouts were won by less than one point; the two semi-final rounds sent the top two teams to finals, with one second-place team earning just 0.7 points better than the third place team. And the finals bout was no different. Macalester College beat second-place Washington University by 1.4 points. New York University finished third and the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities fourth.

The four-day event was not purely about the competition. Educational opportunities also abounded, from workshops to assist the poets in improving their performing and writing skills to a film screening of Kevin Coval’s “Louder than a Bomb.” A poet’s lounge and free time during the day also allowed for community building throughout the event.

In addition to honoring the top four institutions, individual poets and other institutions also received recognition for their outstanding performances:

  • Spirit of the Slam Award: Wesleyan University
  • Best Writing by a Team: Macalester College
  • Best Performing by a Team: Washington University
  • Pushing the Art Forward Award: Brown University
  • Best Individual Poet: Michael Lee, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
  • Best Individual Poem: “Wingdings” by Niko Walkowiak, Macalester College
  • Best Persona Piece: “Eyes” by Randyl Wilkerson and Emily Weitzman, Wesleyan University
  • Most Humorous Poem: “Barista’s Love Poem” by Spencer Retelle, Macalester College
  • Best Love Poem: “OCD,” by Neil Hilborn, Macalester College
  • Best Social Political Commentary Poem(s): “Born” by Storm Thomas, University of California–Santa Cruz; “Kama Shut the Heck Up” by Janani Balasubramanian, Stanford University

The College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational is the only licensed poetry slam tournament bringing college students together to showcase their talents. Poetry slam is the competitive art of performance poetry.

To learn more about the event and see the finals standings from this year’s invitational, please visit

Find a PDF of this press release here.


Elizabeth Stringer
Associate Editor

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