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REVIEW: Grand Tournament III

by J.J. Feuerstein

This past Saturday was the third annual Grand Tournament hosted by the Writing Knights at Mac’s Books in Cleveland Heights.
Once again this year saw the beset local poets go “head to head” competing for the honor of being named the Tournament champion and getting a chapbook with the Writing Knights. This year’s competitors all impressed the judges, making the selection of the finalists and ultimately the champion not an easy task.

Full Review after the Jump

The first finalist to perform was Julie Marchand, whose work demonstrated a simple structure yet a powerful honesty, and well-crafted imagery.  Her pieces leave strong visual impressions on the audience and let these communicate the experience captured in the piece.

D.L. Woure presented his powerful work which expresses his experiences as an African American as well as his experiences in Iraq. These works are infused with both “beat” or slam poetry style along with notable references to African roots and modern society.

Alexis brought a bit of the south to the event, with her roots being located in Kentucky. Her poems are filed with a bit of Southern character, unflinching honesty, a sense of humor, and wonderful insight.

J.M. Roming took over the stage with his strong voice, both lighthearted and yet extremely cognizant poems. His work captures our modern world with very vivid descriptions and careful word choice. His works are perhaps sarcastic at times, sometimes reflective and reminiscent, with a tone that suggests a sort of jaded optimism for the current generations.

Nkechi Edeh presented her works that captures her unique experience as an African American whose family is split across continents. Her works offer a fresh, unique voice, somewhat infused with a beat/ slam style poetry and a very free form style. Her works have no lack of emotion power, especially when experienced aloud, but also do not ask for pity or necessarily sympathy in any way. Instead they offer and express her experiences for the reader/ listener to experience on their own terms and make their own meanings from.

Finally, Serena Castells contributed her unique voice, which constantly seeks to bring some truth to the audience. Her pieces also offer a nice sense of humor yet provide a clear and insightful perspective for readers to consider.

In between the contestants for the Grand Tournament, Haiku Jousts were carried out, with combatants going head to head with Haikus for lances. Each combatant would offer two haikus and then would be judged by the audience to determine a winner. After all round were completed, Lorraine Cipriano emerged victorious amongst the jousters to win an opportunity for a chapbook with the Writing Knights.

The judges were forced to make the difficult choice in identifying a Grand Champion after the finalists had finished their performances, but finally the Champion was determined. Nkechi Edeh was crowned this year’s champion, leaving the strongest impression on the judges with her entries to the tournament and performance.

This year’s entries were all extremely strong, and hopefully each contestant will continue to contribute  and share their works with the community regardless of their placement in the Grand Tournament since each offered a unique and powerful voice.

Thank you everyone who attended and participated for another successful Tournament!

Check out the video of the Grand Tournament contest here.

Be on the look out for an upcoming release from our Champion, and be sure to stay on top of all the exciting upcoming events from the Writing Knight through our social media pages! Get to work on your submissions for next year’s Grand Tournament as well; you never know who might be crowned the Champion! 

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