Atlanta poet, spoken word artist and educator Theresa Davis has won the Women of the World Poetry Slam held this month in Columbus, Ohio. Davis competed against 70 other women from around America to take the top spot. But her win almost didn’t happen.
After making travel arrangements and weeks of rehearsal, Davis discovered that because of miscommunication, she had not been officially registered as a participant in the event. She entered the Video Slam, which would have guaranteed her entry into the main competition, and lost. She flew to Columbus anyway, hoping to take part in the Last Chance Slam, which would choose one poet from a group of 15 to enter the competition. Davis went first and because of inevitable score creep from the judges, she did not win.
Davis’ only hope of making it into the slam now was if another poet dropped out. “I stalked the registration table, but no one dropped out,” Davis said. Instead of going home, Davis signed up to be a “sacrificial poet” who performs before the actual competition to explain the scoring system to the judges. While she would be able to share her poetry with the hundreds in the audience, she would not be in the competition.
“Although I wasn’t going to compete, I attended the poet orientation session because I just didn’t know what to do with my body,” Davis said. “Then I got a phone call telling me that a poet had dropped out and I was being allowed into the competition.”
After two days of competition she was in third place in a group of 12 poets going on to the finals. Davis performed a mixture of audience favorites and new work to claim the title as winner of the Women of the World Poetry Slam.
In the overall competition there were six poets from Atlanta competing: April “AP” Smith, Karen Garrabrant, Jonida “Gypsee Yo” Beqo, Ashlee Hayse, Frannie Choi and Davis. Davis and Gypsee Yo finished in the top two.