On this episode of “Literary Arts: The Archive Project,” we feature some of the incredible slam poets who performed as part of Verselandia!—the annual, city-wide youth poetry slam championship event, presented by Literary Arts—in 2022.
Each year, youth spend months writing and competing in slams on high school campuses across the city. Then, each April, about twenty student finalists compete for the title of city-wide Portland slam champ.
What is important about this episode is that these young poets are thrilling to hear. They will give you the chills, make you laugh, and perhaps bring tears to your eyes. And what’s more, 2022 was the first time we’d been able to present the competition live since 2019, and it was an especially emotional evening. So, at this moment when it feels our society is cleaved with deep divisions—race, geography, economics and age—it is so important to take the time to really listen to young voices, who are, after all the future. These young writers come from all walks of life in Portland, and have incredible stories to tell.
Anis Mojgani is Oregon’s current Poet Laureate and the author of five books of poetry. His work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in journals Bat City Review, Rattle, Buzzfeed Reader, Thrush, and Forklift Ohio, amongst others. A two time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, Anis has done commissioned work for the Getty Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Portland Timbers, and has been awarded artist residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, AIR Serenbe, and the Bloedel Nature Reserve. Originally from New Orleans, Anis currently lives in Portland, OR, where he serves on the Board of Directors for Literary Arts. His latest collection is, “In the Pockets of Small Gods.”