History

Austin Poetry Slam has quite a history, we have been slamming for over 20 years!

click the tabs to select a year and go through the timeline

  • View All
  • 1992
  • 1993
  • 1994
  • 1995
  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998
  • 1999
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015

October 1992

While attending the CMJ Music Conference

in New York City, Austin performance poet

Wammo wins his first slam at

Nuyorican Poets’ Café.

July 1993

The MTV Spoken Word Tour stops in

Austin, exposing local poets to the work

of performers such as Reg E. Gaines and Maggie Estep. Wammo joins the tour for the final leg.

1994

January – As a qualifier for poets to compete at a Slam on the Poetry Stage at the upcoming Lollapalooza concert tour, Wammo hosts a weekly Slam series at Emo’s.

July – As part of the
Poetry Stage on the traveling Lollapalooza tour, a group of Austin poets slam in
Dallas and Houston. Several poets join Wammo as the tour travels across the western U.S.

November – The Slam moves to the Electric
Lounge
as an ongoing bi-weekly series.

1995

February – Slam becomes a bi-weekly event at the Electric Lounge.

July – The first-ever Austin Slam-off:  Mike Henry, Genevieve Van Cleve, Wammo, and Phil West become Austin’s inaugural Slam Team.

August

  • At the National Poetry Slam in Ann Arbor, MI, Team Austin advances to the
    semi-finals, placing 13th out of 26 teams. Wammo advances to the individual finals, placing second in the competition, two tenths of a point behind Slam legend and reigning champion Patricia Smith
  • The Austin Slam receives its first local press recognition as a photo of team
    appears in the Austin American-Statesman, as well as copy and a photo in the “Dancing About Architecture” column in the Austin Chronicle.

1996

March – Annual South
by Southwest spoken word showcases
curated by Mike Henry
for APS.

April – The Austin Team attends the Albuquerque Poetry Festival;
Wammo wins the festival’s slam. As an encore, the team performs their four-person group piece,”Motor Red,” in the street outside the theater.

May – Slam-off #2: Danny Solis, Hilary Thomas, Wammo, and Phil West become the 1996 team. Mike Henry is chosen
as the first Coach for the Austin Slam program.

July – A photo of the team is featured on the cover of the Austin Chronicle with
accompanying feature article, “Do They Dare” by Brett
Holloway-Reeves.

August

  • Fundraising efforts culminate in a benefit performance at the Shoreline Grill, succeeding in providing Team Austin with a fully-funded trip to Nationals.
  • At NPS in Portland, Austin leads the competition for the first three nights and
    advances to the finals, placing 4th out of 27 teams. Wammo places 5th in the individual competition. Footage of the team is shot for the award-winning documentary SlamNation, produced by Paul Devlin.

November – Wammo’s first spoken word album, Fat Headed Stranger, is released on Mercury / Mouth Almighty records.

1997

FebruaryGenevieve Van Cleve takes over the reins as the emcee of the Austin Slam, which becomes a weekly event.

March

April – Austin slammer Sonya
Fehér
hosts a performance workshop featuring the 1996 Austin team at Lanier
High School.

June – First-year slammer Susan Somers-Willett joins veterans Genevieve Van
Cleve, Wammo, and Phil West as members of 1997 Team Austin,
coached by Mike Henry.

August – NPS is held in Middletown, CT. Team Austin places
7th out of 33 teams in overall competition, narrowly missing the
final round of competition.

November – The Austin Chronicle prints “How I Spent My Slammer Vacation” by Phil West, a re-cap of the team’s trip to Nationals.

1998

January – A $3,000 City of Austin Cultural Contracts grant is awarded to the 1998
National Poetry Slam Organizing Committee
by the City of Austin.

February

March

June

  • Slamoff #4: Ernie Cline, Karyna McGlynn, Susan Somers-Willett, and Genevieve Van Cleve become the home team for the 1998 NPS. Jeff Knight is asked to coach.
  • Austin wins Texas Regionals (held in Austin), defeating Dallas, San Antonio, and Fort
    Worth.

July – APS records a compilation CD entitled Tina’s Fine-Ass Lingerie, featuring the members of the first four Austin Slam Teams.

August – Austin hosts the 1998
National Poetry Slam
. Co-Directors Mike Henry, Juliette Torrez, and Phil West and Volunteer Director Sonya Fehér lead efforts to produce the largest NPS in history, featuring events in seven different venues culminating in a sold-out finals at the Paramount Theater. The number of teams in the competition is raised to 46, eclipsing
previous tournaments. A full-scale promotional campaign and numerous innovations
contribute to what remains to be widely considered among the best NPS
tournaments ever. Team Austin finishes 9th out of 45 teams.

October – Austin NPS is featured in numerous publications including Time Magazine, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as a fifteen-minute segment on a CNN news magazine.

November – Austin Slam Emcee Genevieve Van Cleve moves to England. APS incorporates a rotating cast of slam hosts.

1999

March – Phil West is elected to voting Trustee position on PSI EC, later named Vice-President of the Council. Mike Henry takes over West’s non-voting role.

April – Slamoff #5: Vickie Charleston, Ernie Cline, Karyna McGlynn, and Phil West take the top spots to become the 1999 Team Austin in the last slam held at the Electric Lounge before the venerable slam venue closes its doors. Cline later steps off of the team and is replaced by Mike Henry.

May – Sonya Fehér hosts AIPF slam.

June – The first-ever Austin Slam Summit meeting is held, inviting the entire community to meet and share their vision and observations about the Slam.

July – Austin places 2nd at Showdown in Dallas Invitationals.

August – At the tenth
annual NPS in Chicago
Team Austin places 12th, narrowly missing a
return to the finals after a loss to Oakland in the semis.

October

  • After a nomadic summer, the Austin Slam finds new home at Gaby & Mo’s, a new
    coffee house and eatery on Austin’s east side.
  • The first-ever Austin Slam Council is elected consisting
    of Woody Baldwin, Sonya Fehér, Mike Henry, Dillon McKinsey, Aaron Sanders, Hilary Thomas, and Phil West.

November – The Austin Chronicle’s “Best of Austin” issue recognizes APS as “Best Slam Survivors” as the successful Electric Lounge series thrives in its new venue.

2000

January – Austin wins Corpus Christi Invitational Team Slam, defeating San Antonio and Corpus Christi

February – Sonya Fehér and Mike
Henry host a writing and performance workshop at St. Stephens High School.

March

  • The Austin Chronicle’s Music Critics Poll names Mike Henry’s performance at the
    1999 Slam-off as “Best Local Show of the Year,” marking the first spoken
    word performance to be recognized in the poll.
  • Over the past five years, the annual South by Southwest spoken
    word showcases
    curated by Mike Henry for APS have become the top performance
    poetry / music festival showcase in the nation, attracting dozens of well-known
    performers and members of the slam nation.

April

  • APS produces the Austin International Poetry Festival Slam, hosted by Sonya Fehér.
  • At the Slammasters meeting in Chicago, Mike Henry is elected
    President of Poetry Slam, Inc., in the
    wake of the retirement of Marc Smith, Slam’s founding father. Phil West reprises his role as Vice-President.

May – Sonya Fehér, Ragan Fox, Jeff Knight, and Gerald Youngblood take up the
flag as Team Austin 2000. Aaron Sanders is chosen as Alternate and shares coaching duties with Hilary Thomas.

June

June – Mike Henry, Genevieve Van Cleve, and Wammo are featured in the Austin American-Statesman’s “Find Austin’s Yeats” contest.

July – Team Austin wins the first night of Texas Regionals competition, defeating Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Dallas.

AugustNPS Y2K is held
in Providence, RI. Team Austin places 24th out of 56 teams. Mike
Henry and Phil West host a multi-voice showcase, recorded live for a CD released
by Bleeding Edge Records (San Jose, CA). Austinite Rich Perin competes as part of the first-ever San Antonio Team at NPS, which places second in the tournament.

September – A number of High School writing and performance workshops are coordinated by Rich Perin and APS in preparation for Austin’s first team at the National Youth Poetry Slam, to be held in Ann Arbor, MI.

October – The 2nd version of the Austin Slam Council is elected, consisting of Andy Buck, Jason Edwards, Sonya Fehér, Sara Klesel, Mary Morrison, Susan Somers-Willett. Mike Henry is appointed Executive Director of APS.

November

  • APS files Articles of Incorporation with the State of Texas en route to completion
    of APS’s application for non-profit status.
  • APS files request for non-profit status with the IRS.

December – APS is granted nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the IRS.

2001

January

  • APS is granted franchise and sales tax exemptions by the State of Texas.
  • Raising Our Voices (ROV), a branch of the Austin Poetry Slam dedicated to increasing the
    participation of traditionally underrepresented poets in Austin, specifically
    women, queer, and minority poets, is established through two ROV programs:

    • Trigger Happyjacks, a gay performance troupe, which will combine poetry, performance art, theater, comedy, and a variety of other live artistic mediums, aiming to
      reflect the entire spectrum of the queer community through irreverent scathing,
      intelligent, and poignant performances.
    • Sirens, a monthly women’s reading series at Gaby & Mo’s, combining an open mic, writing and performance workshops, and Q&A panel discussions on issues
      pertaining to women in performance poetry.
  • APS is chosen as a beneficiary for Club Skirt.
  • Poets from APS travel to Corpus Christi to do feature performances at Texas A&M
    and at the CC Poetry Slam.
  • Trigger Happyjacks premiere at Hyde Park Theater’s FronteraFest.

February

  • Ragan Fox unveils his new one-man show at FronteraFest. The show is selected for the Best of Festival showcase.
  • The Sulking Donut is resurrected for FronteraFest as Austin slam poets serve up
    poetry instead of food. Sulking Donut is also selected as one of the Best of Festival Showcases.
  • Trigger Happyjacks are selected as a Wild Card for Best of Festival.
  • Ragan Fox performs his one-man show at the UT Gender Conference.
  • Trigger Happyjacks perform at Club Skirt.

March – The annual South by Southwest spoken word showcases curated by Mike Henry for APS continues to be one of the top performance poetry / music festival showcase in the nation, attracting dozens of well-known performers and
members of the slam nation.

April – At the Slammasters meeting in Chicago, Mike Henry is re-elected President of Poetry Slam, Inc.. Phil West reprises his role as Vice-President.

May – Slamoff #7: Ernie Cline, Ragan Fox, Jeff Knight, and Sara Winn become Team Austin 2001. Susan Somers-Willett
places Fifth and becomes the Team Alternate/Coach.

2002

January – APS goes weekly at Egos. We move to Thursday nights. We have a wonderful home at Egos for the next six years.

March – Features from Abraham Smith, Desdamona, and Noel Jones.

April – Slamoff #8: April, 2002, Matthew John Conley (2002 Slam Champ!), Andy Buck, Big Poppa E, Ragan Fox, & Genevieve Van Cleve (Alternate) become Team Austin 2002.

May – Feature from Laura Moran

August

  • Team Austin heads off to compete in the 2002 National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Feature from Karyna McGlynn

September – Scott Woods feature

October – APS Moves to Wednesday nights.

November – Jason Carney and Gary Glazner feature.

 

2003

January – Austin Neo-Soul is founded by Herman Mason.

 

April

  • Slamoff #9: April 13, 2003 Austin Grand Slam 2003, (at Ruta Maya) was presented in collaboration with the Bluebonnet Slam (and supported by a generous grant from the Writers’ League of Texas) as part of the fabulous TEXAS TWO STEP Slam Weekend! These poets competed: Michael Brown (Boston, MA), Rives (LA, CA), Danny Solis (ABQ, NM), Corbet Dean (Phoenix, AZ), Shappy Seasholtz (NYC), GNO (Dallas, TX), Genevieve Van Cleve, Christopher Lee, Shannon Leigh, Jeff Knight, Tara Sheth, Da Shade, Tony Jackson, Andy Buck (Austin, TX)
  • The 4th Annual BLUEBONNET SLAM, was held on Saturday, April 12, 2003 in Conroe, TX.
  • Amalia Ortiz, Rives, and Taylor Mail feature!

August

  • APS Brings it at Nationals and makes finals!  We take home Third Place overall, out of 63 teams.

2004

January

  • Slam continues at Egos. Everything is grand.
  • This was the first year of The Austin Youth Poetry Slam Team.

March

  • Sock Puppet Slam!
  • March 26: Under21 Slam-Off and Three-Ring Circus Slam Ruta Maya Cafe.  The Austin Under21 team went on to make the finals at Brave New Voices that first year that they went.  The team was picked in March, and BNV was in late April or early May.
  • Austin Under21 Slam came in 5th in the nation in 2004;
  • Slam Channel was launched, where you could download many awesome videos of slam performances,
  • This was also the year of the Slam Planet Documentary

April

SlamOff #10: Tuesday, April 20 @ La Zona Rosa.

 

APS 2004 Slam Team: Christopher Lee, Tony Jackson, Matthew John Conley (Coach), Andy Buck, Zell Miller III, David Hendler (Alternate), & DaShade Moonbeam

 

2005

January – Charging on at Egos. Gen Van Cleve returns to her role as a regular host along with Mike Henry.

February – Sidekicks slam is founded by APS Veteran Christopher Lee to provide an open reading primarily for the LGBT community in Austin.

March

  • We welcome the newest member of the Austin slam scene, The Slam Attic, UT Austin’s very own slam club. This is the first incarnation of the UT Poetry Slam.
  • Slam Planet Benefit – Music from Speedy Colt, King Coal, and friends featured poet h (LA) and the first ever SCRABBLE RUMBLE

April

  • Slamoff #11 –

2005 Austin Slam Team: Christopher Michael, Suzy La Follette, Michael P Whalen, Krissi Reeves, Christopher Lee. Andy Buck (coach)

 

  • Eitan Kadosh feature

May – SlamBowl #1 – The first annual fundraiser slam scrimmage between Austin’s Youth and Adult Slam Organizations!

2006

January – Still going strong at Egos. Andy Buck joins Mike and Gen as a regular host.

April

  • Make it Wet Spit Fest VI – Hosted by Zell Miller III, and produced by La-Love Robinson. Music by DJ Diasporic & DJ Quan. Special guest SCEF from Houston. This show is HOTT!
  • Slammasters’ Decathalon Slam: Saturday, April 15: Dozens of the top Slammasters in the country go to work and compete in ten grueling events. Poetry? Competitive eating? Sock puppets? Interpretive dance? Oh, yes!
  • SlamBowl #2: Sunday, April 16. Austin Slam vs. Neo Soul vs. Austin 21 Slam!
  • AIPF 2006 – One of the longest running poetry festivals in the country.
  • The Mano E Mano Slam! – April 22nd at Ruta Maya. Presented by Texas Youth Word Collective the Austin Under 21 Slam Team went head-to-head against the Chico Speak Out Team from Chico, California.
  • Logan Phillips, Derrick Brown, Scott Woods, and Shappy Seasholtz all feature in April.
  • Slamoff #12: Saturday, April 29, 2006 at the Paramount Theatre. Hosted by Mike Henry with DJ Nicknack. These poets competed: Tony Jackson, Krissi Reeves, Big Poppa E, Zell Miller III, Erin Livingston, Christopher Lee, Genevieve Van Cleve, Da’Shade, Christopher Michael, Shannon Leigh, Andy Buck, Ohio Jake.

2006 Team Austin, (the NPS home team for that year):

Christopher Michael (repeats as city champ), Tony Jackson, Genevieve Van Cleve, Da’Shade, Zell Miller III,

 

May

  • Bon Voyage and feature show for Shannon Leigh, moving off to the ATL.
  • Features by Emanuel Xavier and Buddy Wakefield

June

  • APS Live Recording Session at Ruta Maya World HQ! We record a live CD (two, actually) at an event that featured Blacklisted Individuals and more.
  • Austin Neo-Soul forms their first team! Congrats to Kim 13, Trey, Michelle Desiree, Element 615, and Slam Champ B. Fran (along with Coaches Love Robinson and Mike Whalen)!  Amazing!

July

  • Austin Slam Scrimmage: This is the first year that APS faced Austin Neo-Soul in a crosstown bout!  We also went up against the APS Scrimmage team!
  • We celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Poetry Slam movement with a special guest host – WAMMO, the founder of Austin Poetry Slam.

August

  • Mike Henry’s documentary, SlamPlanet, is shown in a special screening at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in advance of the 2006 National Poetry Slam.
  • Austin hosts the 2006 National Poetry Slam from August 9-12!!!
    • It goes off swimmingly.

September

  • New Scoring and Quarter Final System Implemented.  This is the same system we use today.
  • “Tonight at Ego’s we unleash our first-ever QUARTERFINAL SLAM! Our new qualifying system divides the season into four quarters. Tonight, you’ll see the top scoring poets from the first quarter of this year slugging it out. The winner gets themselves a slot in the Slamoffs to choose Team Austin 07 and also our iWPS representative.” Confirmed poets in the first ever quarter final: Robin Blackburn, Andy Buck, Ruff Draft, Big Poppa E, Tony Jackson, Ohio Jake, Erin Livingston, Krissi Reeves, Love Robinson, Sarah Quenon, Minister Sin, & Danny Strack.
  • The 1! 2!3!4! Slam! – New Slam series hosted by Phil West. Poets read work in varying lengths, starting with a one minute time limit and growing to four minutes.
  • Features from Sonya Renee (Individual NPS Champion), and Jason Carney, (redneck superhero from Dallas).
  • Matthew John Conley hosts a benefit at Ruta Maya for the family of Trinidad Sanchez, a beloved San Antonio poet who passed recently.

October

  • This month, all month, we try a new policy: Only new poems allowed in the first round.
  • Taped open mic with videos entered into national contest and potentially on HBO ON DEMAND.

2007

February –

  • Special Feature by slam legend ROGER BONAIR AGARD from NYC / LouderArts at Ruta Maya, doing his one man show — Masquerade: Poems of Calypso and Home.
  • APS launches a new monthly show: CHANNELSURF: the Austin Poetry Slam Variety Show, starting with acts from MINISTER SIN, KRISSI REEVES, MARINER AIRLINES (ft. our own Hilary Thomas) X vs O: a new monthly winner-keeps- the-court head-to-head battle ft. ANDY BUCK vs. TONY JACKSON.

 

March –

  • Going away slam for Matthew John Conley. MJC has been at the heart of our community since he relocated in Austin years back. Austin Slam Champ, APS Coach on NPS Finals Stage, President of the Slam Council. The first person to get the APS logo tattooed on his body.
  • Feature by Billy Tuggle of Chicago.


April

  • Testing 1-2-3: APS Presents a night of safe sex awareness with hip hop, breakdancing, and poetry April 5, The Off Center, ft. NOOK BLACKLISTED INDIVIDUALS, B BOY CITY, & DJ NICK NACK. Hosted by Mike Henry and B Fran.
  • Features by Dallas Slam Champ Amy Weaver and Individual World Poetry Slam Champion Ed Mabrey!
  • Slamoff #13 at Ruta Maya World HQ. Hosted by Mike Henry with Phil West, DJ Hot Wings, and featuring a showcase of Austin Slam stars. Poets competing: Da’Shade, Andy Buck, Tony Jackson, Danny Strack, Krissi Reeves, Erin Livingston, David Hendler, Sarah Quenon, Amye Wilson, and Emily Shafer. 2007 team: Da’Shade, Andy Buck, Tony Jackson, Danny Strack, and Krissi Reeves)

May

  • Austin Slam featured on KLRU’s show ‘Downtown’. Austin’s PBS affiliate featured Austin Poetry Slam on the Emmy Award-winning Downtown series. This aired May 3, 2007 – Episode #302: Cutting Edge Care, Caffeine Culture and Austin’s Rhyme, Rhythm and Rune Rally.
  • Tony Jackson’s birthday celebration with prizes from Forbidden Fruit.
  • Feature by Clebo Rainey, father of the Dallas, TX slam scene.

June

  • Feature from Blair from Detroit.
  • Sock Puppet Slam!
  • Benefit show for 2007 National Poetry Slam at Dominican Joe, presented by ArtBulb. Featuring the Austin Under 21 Slam Team, Mike Whalen, Peter Nevland, Genevieve Van Cleve, Mike Henry, and more!
  • Benefit Bash on June 30th – Another big NPS fundraising show at Ruta Maya.

 

August – Austin hosts the 2007 National Poetry Slam from August 7 – 11! It goes off brilliantly!

October – Welcome to Roktober! This month, all month: Only new poems allowed in the first round.

 

2008

January – Andy Buck and Tony Jackson host. Dj Blue Valentine spins.

March – At some point here we move to the scoot inn. (Red Scoot Inn)

April – Slamoff # 14 – Tuesday, April 8th, Long Center for the Performing Arts (just opened and friggin’ GORGEOUS)

  • These poets competed: Andy Buck, Rob C., Ruff Draft, Lacey Roop, Christopher Lee, Erin Livingston, Tony Jackson, Da’Shade Moonbeam, Emily Shafer, and Danny Strack. Along with special feature poets Anis Mojgani, Zell Miller III, and Cry Havoc Action Choreography. Hosted by Slam Master Mike Henry, and backed by DJ Nicknack.

May

  • Features by David Hendler, APS Alum and current San Antonio Slam Champion, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz & Shappy Seasholtz (NYC Slammasters)
  • “Words in your Face: A Guided Tour Throught Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry” reading and booksigning by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz at Book People.
  • SPINNING THE BOTTLE: an Existential Comedy for the Cynical Romantic, featuring Two-time alumnae of the Austin Slam team, Krissi Reeves! Spinning the Bottle won two awards at the recent DFW Fringe Festival. (501 Theater – the future ND)
  • SPOKEN WORD II: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO – hosted by Shappy and featuring a set by Austin slam legend Ernie Cline. Plus Mike Whalen, Tony Jackson, Phil West, Danny Strack, Erin Livingston, Element 615 and more! Musical guests STRANGE POWERS and the newest, flyest, geekiest hip hop crew in town, SHOW ME TIGER! featuring Austin slammer Suzy La Follette.

 

June – Slam Scrimmage  between Team Austin and Team Acme.

July – Beloved Austin youth poet Shannon Leigh passed away on Monday.

August

  • THEY CALL ME WARRIOR, A Tribute to Shannon Leigh, held at Ruta Maya.
  • Austin competes at the 2008 National Poetry Slam in Madison, WI and makes the finals!  We ended up taking third place overall in the Nation!  Congrats to the team for all their hard work paying off!

2009

 

  • Shelia, Shannon Leigh’s mother and beloved founder of Austin’s Youth Slam passes away.  We can’t imagine anything more tragic.
  • We move to the ND (the North Door) full time, occasionally moonlighting at Progress Coffee.
  • Slamoff #15 – The North Door (ND) – 2009 Team: Faylita Hicks (champion), Tony Jackson, Big Poppa E, Christopher Lee and Danny Strack.

2010

April

  • Slamoff #16 – The North Door – 2010 Team: Danny Strack (champion), Lacey Roop, Seth Walker, Christopher Lee and Tova Charles

August

  • The 1st ever “Battle of the Slams” is held at the High Ball on S. Lamar. One of the first shows in this beautiful new venue, the show pits a 10 poet team from APS against a 10 poet team from Austin Neo-Soul, and is a great success.  It brings the communities together and raises money for both teams, which both need it this year.
  • Gabriel moves to Austin, and she is then unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer and passes away shortly thereafter.  Everyone is heartbroken.
  • Mike Henry retires as slammaster.
  • “Mike Henry’s Last Slam” occurs on December 15, 2010.
  • Danny Strack takes over as slammaster.

2011

January –

  • January 11, 2011 (1/11/11) Ausitn Slam Strikes Back, the APS Reboot!  Austin Slam moves to our glorious new home at the Art Authority, which soon changes its name to the 29th Street Ballroom, which changes its name to the Spider House Ballroom. The poets all come together and slam attendance blossoms at the new venue.

April

  • Slamoff #17 – 2011 Team: Kevin Burke (champ), Zachary Caballero, Lacey Roop, Good Ghost Bill, Margaret Ruth Olson.
  • Phil Aulie passes away.  He was on the same youth team as Shannon, mentored by Shelia, and was one of the brightest lights in both Austin’s slam and improv scenes.  Dear universe – We will not accept another loss from our Youth Community.

October 1992


While attending the CMJ Music Conference

in New York City, Austin performance poet

Wammo wins his first slam at

Nuyorican Poets’ Café.

July 1993

The MTV Spoken Word Tour stops in

Austin, exposing local poets to the work

of performers such as Reg E. Gaines and Maggie Estep. Wammo joins the tour for the final leg.

1994

January – As a qualifier for poets to compete at a Slam on the Poetry Stage at the upcoming Lollapalooza concert tour, Wammo hosts a weekly Slam series at Emo’s.

July – As part of the
Poetry Stage on the traveling Lollapalooza tour, a group of Austin poets slam in
Dallas and Houston. Several poets join Wammo as the tour travels across the western U.S.

November – The Slam moves to the Electric
Lounge
as an ongoing bi-weekly series.

1995

February – Slam becomes a bi-weekly event at the Electric Lounge.

July – The first-ever Austin Slam-off:  Mike Henry, Genevieve Van Cleve, Wammo, and Phil West become Austin’s inaugural Slam Team.

August

  • At the National Poetry Slam in Ann Arbor, MI, Team Austin advances to the
    semi-finals, placing 13th out of 26 teams. Wammo advances to the individual finals, placing second in the competition, two tenths of a point behind Slam legend and reigning champion Patricia Smith
  • The Austin Slam receives its first local press recognition as a photo of team
    appears in the Austin American-Statesman, as well as copy and a photo in the “Dancing About Architecture” column in the Austin Chronicle.

1996

March – Annual South
by Southwest spoken word showcases
curated by Mike Henry
for APS.

April – The Austin Team attends the Albuquerque Poetry Festival;
Wammo wins the festival’s slam. As an encore, the team performs their four-person group piece,”Motor Red,” in the street outside the theater.

May – Slam-off #2: Danny Solis, Hilary Thomas, Wammo, and Phil West become the 1996 team. Mike Henry is chosen
as the first Coach for the Austin Slam program.

July – A photo of the team is featured on the cover of the Austin Chronicle with
accompanying feature article, “Do They Dare” by Brett
Holloway-Reeves.

August

  • Fundraising efforts culminate in a benefit performance at the Shoreline Grill, succeeding in providing Team Austin with a fully-funded trip to Nationals.
  • At NPS in Portland, Austin leads the competition for the first three nights and
    advances to the finals, placing 4th out of 27 teams. Wammo places 5th in the individual competition. Footage of the team is shot for the award-winning documentary SlamNation, produced by Paul Devlin.

November – Wammo’s first spoken word album, Fat Headed Stranger, is released on Mercury / Mouth Almighty records.

1997

FebruaryGenevieve Van Cleve takes over the reins as the emcee of the Austin Slam, which becomes a weekly event.

March

April – Austin slammer Sonya
Fehér
hosts a performance workshop featuring the 1996 Austin team at Lanier
High School.

June – First-year slammer Susan Somers-Willett joins veterans Genevieve Van
Cleve, Wammo, and Phil West as members of 1997 Team Austin,
coached by Mike Henry.

August – NPS is held in Middletown, CT. Team Austin places
7th out of 33 teams in overall competition, narrowly missing the
final round of competition.

November – The Austin Chronicle prints “How I Spent My Slammer Vacation” by Phil West, a re-cap of the team’s trip to Nationals.

1998

January – A $3,000 City of Austin Cultural Contracts grant is awarded to the 1998
National Poetry Slam Organizing Committee
by the City of Austin.

February

March

June

  • Slamoff #4: Ernie Cline, Karyna McGlynn, Susan Somers-Willett, and Genevieve Van Cleve become the home team for the 1998 NPS. Jeff Knight is asked to coach.
  • Austin wins Texas Regionals (held in Austin), defeating Dallas, San Antonio, and Fort
    Worth.

July – APS records a compilation CD entitled Tina’s Fine-Ass Lingerie, featuring the members of the first four Austin Slam Teams.

August – Austin hosts the 1998
National Poetry Slam
. Co-Directors Mike Henry, Juliette Torrez, and Phil West and Volunteer Director Sonya Fehér lead efforts to produce the largest NPS in history, featuring events in seven different venues culminating in a sold-out finals at the Paramount Theater. The number of teams in the competition is raised to 46, eclipsing
previous tournaments. A full-scale promotional campaign and numerous innovations
contribute to what remains to be widely considered among the best NPS
tournaments ever. Team Austin finishes 9th out of 45 teams.

October – Austin NPS is featured in numerous publications including Time Magazine, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as a fifteen-minute segment on a CNN news magazine.

November – Austin Slam Emcee Genevieve Van Cleve moves to England. APS incorporates a rotating cast of slam hosts.

1999

March – Phil West is elected to voting Trustee position on PSI EC, later named Vice-President of the Council. Mike Henry takes over West’s non-voting role.

April – Slamoff #5: Vickie Charleston, Ernie Cline, Karyna McGlynn, and Phil West take the top spots to become the 1999 Team Austin in the last slam held at the Electric Lounge before the venerable slam venue closes its doors. Cline later steps off of the team and is replaced by Mike Henry.

May – Sonya Fehér hosts AIPF slam.

June – The first-ever Austin Slam Summit meeting is held, inviting the entire community to meet and share their vision and observations about the Slam.

July – Austin places 2nd at Showdown in Dallas Invitationals.

August – At the tenth
annual NPS in Chicago
Team Austin places 12th, narrowly missing a
return to the finals after a loss to Oakland in the semis.

October

  • After a nomadic summer, the Austin Slam finds new home at Gaby & Mo’s, a new
    coffee house and eatery on Austin’s east side.
  • The first-ever Austin Slam Council is elected consisting
    of Woody Baldwin, Sonya Fehér, Mike Henry, Dillon McKinsey, Aaron Sanders, Hilary Thomas, and Phil West.

November – The Austin Chronicle’s “Best of Austin” issue recognizes APS as “Best Slam Survivors” as the successful Electric Lounge series thrives in its new venue.

2000

January – Austin wins Corpus Christi Invitational Team Slam, defeating San Antonio and Corpus Christi

February – Sonya Fehér and Mike
Henry host a writing and performance workshop at St. Stephens High School.

March

  • The Austin Chronicle’s Music Critics Poll names Mike Henry’s performance at the
    1999 Slam-off as “Best Local Show of the Year,” marking the first spoken
    word performance to be recognized in the poll.
  • Over the past five years, the annual South by Southwest spoken
    word showcases
    curated by Mike Henry for APS have become the top performance
    poetry / music festival showcase in the nation, attracting dozens of well-known
    performers and members of the slam nation.

April

  • APS produces the Austin International Poetry Festival Slam, hosted by Sonya Fehér.
  • At the Slammasters meeting in Chicago, Mike Henry is elected
    President of Poetry Slam, Inc., in the
    wake of the retirement of Marc Smith, Slam’s founding father. Phil West reprises his role as Vice-President.

May – Sonya Fehér, Ragan Fox, Jeff Knight, and Gerald Youngblood take up the
flag as Team Austin 2000. Aaron Sanders is chosen as Alternate and shares coaching duties with Hilary Thomas.

June

June – Mike Henry, Genevieve Van Cleve, and Wammo are featured in the Austin American-Statesman’s “Find Austin’s Yeats” contest.

July – Team Austin wins the first night of Texas Regionals competition, defeating Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Dallas.

AugustNPS Y2K is held
in Providence, RI. Team Austin places 24th out of 56 teams. Mike
Henry and Phil West host a multi-voice showcase, recorded live for a CD released
by Bleeding Edge Records (San Jose, CA). Austinite Rich Perin competes as part of the first-ever San Antonio Team at NPS, which places second in the tournament.

September – A number of High School writing and performance workshops are coordinated by Rich Perin and APS in preparation for Austin’s first team at the National Youth Poetry Slam, to be held in Ann Arbor, MI.

October – The 2nd version of the Austin Slam Council is elected, consisting of Andy Buck, Jason Edwards, Sonya Fehér, Sara Klesel, Mary Morrison, Susan Somers-Willett. Mike Henry is appointed Executive Director of APS.

November

  • APS files Articles of Incorporation with the State of Texas en route to completion
    of APS’s application for non-profit status.
  • APS files request for non-profit status with the IRS.

December – APS is granted nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the IRS.

2001

January

  • APS is granted franchise and sales tax exemptions by the State of Texas.
  • Raising Our Voices (ROV), a branch of the Austin Poetry Slam dedicated to increasing the
    participation of traditionally underrepresented poets in Austin, specifically
    women, queer, and minority poets, is established through two ROV programs:

    • Trigger Happyjacks, a gay performance troupe, which will combine poetry, performance art, theater, comedy, and a variety of other live artistic mediums, aiming to
      reflect the entire spectrum of the queer community through irreverent scathing,
      intelligent, and poignant performances.
    • Sirens, a monthly women’s reading series at Gaby & Mo’s, combining an open mic, writing and performance workshops, and Q&A panel discussions on issues
      pertaining to women in performance poetry.
  • APS is chosen as a beneficiary for Club Skirt.
  • Poets from APS travel to Corpus Christi to do feature performances at Texas A&M
    and at the CC Poetry Slam.
  • Trigger Happyjacks premiere at Hyde Park Theater’s FronteraFest.

February

  • Ragan Fox unveils his new one-man show at FronteraFest. The show is selected for the Best of Festival showcase.
  • The Sulking Donut is resurrected for FronteraFest as Austin slam poets serve up
    poetry instead of food. Sulking Donut is also selected as one of the Best of Festival Showcases.
  • Trigger Happyjacks are selected as a Wild Card for Best of Festival.
  • Ragan Fox performs his one-man show at the UT Gender Conference.
  • Trigger Happyjacks perform at Club Skirt.

March – The annual South by Southwest spoken word showcases curated by Mike Henry for APS continues to be one of the top performance poetry / music festival showcase in the nation, attracting dozens of well-known performers and
members of the slam nation.

April – At the Slammasters meeting in Chicago, Mike Henry is re-elected President of Poetry Slam, Inc.. Phil West reprises his role as Vice-President.

May – Slamoff #7: Ernie Cline, Ragan Fox, Jeff Knight, and Sara Winn become Team Austin 2001. Susan Somers-Willett
places Fifth and becomes the Team Alternate/Coach.

2002
January – APS goes weekly at Egos. We move to Thursday nights. We have a wonderful home at Egos for the next six years.March – Features from Abraham Smith, Desdamona, and Noel Jones.April – Slamoff #8: April, 2002, Matthew John Conley (2002 Slam Champ!), Andy Buck, Big Poppa E, Ragan Fox, & Genevieve Van Cleve (Alternate) become Team Austin 2002.May – Feature from Laura MoranAugust

  • Team Austin heads off to compete in the 2002 National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Feature from Karyna McGlynn

September – Scott Woods feature

October – APS Moves to Wednesday nights.

November – Jason Carney and Gary Glazner feature.

 

2003
January – Austin Neo-Soul is founded by Herman Mason.April

  • Slamoff #9: April 13, 2003 Austin Grand Slam 2003, (at Ruta Maya) was presented in collaboration with the Bluebonnet Slam (and supported by a generous grant from the Writers’ League of Texas) as part of the fabulous TEXAS TWO STEP Slam Weekend! These poets competed: Michael Brown (Boston, MA), Rives (LA, CA), Danny Solis (ABQ, NM), Corbet Dean (Phoenix, AZ), Shappy Seasholtz (NYC), GNO (Dallas, TX), Genevieve Van Cleve, Christopher Lee, Shannon Leigh, Jeff Knight, Tara Sheth, Da Shade, Tony Jackson, Andy Buck (Austin, TX)
  • The 4th Annual BLUEBONNET SLAM, was held on Saturday, April 12, 2003 in Conroe, TX.
  • Amalia Ortiz, Rives, and Taylor Mail feature!

August

  • APS Brings it at Nationals and makes finals!  We take home Third Place overall, out of 63 teams.
2004
January

  • Slam continues at Egos. Everything is grand.
  • This was the first year of The Austin Youth Poetry Slam Team.

March

  • Sock Puppet Slam!
  • March 26: Under21 Slam-Off and Three-Ring Circus Slam Ruta Maya Cafe.  The Austin Under21 team went on to make the finals at Brave New Voices that first year that they went.  The team was picked in March, and BNV was in late April or early May.
  • Austin Under21 Slam came in 5th in the nation in 2004;
  • Slam Channel was launched, where you could download many awesome videos of slam performances,
  • This was also the year of the Slam Planet Documentary

April

SlamOff #10: Tuesday, April 20 @ La Zona Rosa.

 

APS 2004 Slam Team: Christopher Lee, Tony Jackson, Matthew John Conley (Coach), Andy Buck, Zell Miller III, David Hendler (Alternate), & DaShade Moonbeam

 

2005
January – Charging on at Egos. Gen Van Cleve returns to her role as a regular host along with Mike Henry.February – Sidekicks slam is founded by APS Veteran Christopher Lee to provide an open reading primarily for the LGBT community in Austin.March

  • We welcome the newest member of the Austin slam scene, The Slam Attic, UT Austin’s very own slam club. This is the first incarnation of the UT Poetry Slam.
  • Slam Planet Benefit – Music from Speedy Colt, King Coal, and friends featured poet h (LA) and the first ever SCRABBLE RUMBLE

April

  • Slamoff #11 –

2005 Austin Slam Team: Christopher Michael, Suzy La Follette, Michael P Whalen, Krissi Reeves, Christopher Lee. Andy Buck (coach)

 

  • Eitan Kadosh feature

May – SlamBowl #1 – The first annual fundraiser slam scrimmage between Austin’s Youth and Adult Slam Organizations!

2006
January – Still going strong at Egos. Andy Buck joins Mike and Gen as a regular host.April

  • Make it Wet Spit Fest VI – Hosted by Zell Miller III, and produced by La-Love Robinson. Music by DJ Diasporic & DJ Quan. Special guest SCEF from Houston. This show is HOTT!
  • Slammasters’ Decathalon Slam: Saturday, April 15: Dozens of the top Slammasters in the country go to work and compete in ten grueling events. Poetry? Competitive eating? Sock puppets? Interpretive dance? Oh, yes!
  • SlamBowl #2: Sunday, April 16. Austin Slam vs. Neo Soul vs. Austin 21 Slam!
  • AIPF 2006 – One of the longest running poetry festivals in the country.
  • The Mano E Mano Slam! – April 22nd at Ruta Maya. Presented by Texas Youth Word Collective the Austin Under 21 Slam Team went head-to-head against the Chico Speak Out Team from Chico, California.
  • Logan Phillips, Derrick Brown, Scott Woods, and Shappy Seasholtz all feature in April.
  • Slamoff #12: Saturday, April 29, 2006 at the Paramount Theatre. Hosted by Mike Henry with DJ Nicknack. These poets competed: Tony Jackson, Krissi Reeves, Big Poppa E, Zell Miller III, Erin Livingston, Christopher Lee, Genevieve Van Cleve, Da’Shade, Christopher Michael, Shannon Leigh, Andy Buck, Ohio Jake.

2006 Team Austin, (the NPS home team for that year):

Christopher Michael (repeats as city champ), Tony Jackson, Genevieve Van Cleve, Da’Shade, Zell Miller III,

 

May

  • Bon Voyage and feature show for Shannon Leigh, moving off to the ATL.
  • Features by Emanuel Xavier and Buddy Wakefield

June

  • APS Live Recording Session at Ruta Maya World HQ! We record a live CD (two, actually) at an event that featured Blacklisted Individuals and more.
  • Austin Neo-Soul forms their first team! Congrats to Kim 13, Trey, Michelle Desiree, Element 615, and Slam Champ B. Fran (along with Coaches Love Robinson and Mike Whalen)!  Amazing!

July

  • Austin Slam Scrimmage: This is the first year that APS faced Austin Neo-Soul in a crosstown bout!  We also went up against the APS Scrimmage team!
  • We celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Poetry Slam movement with a special guest host – WAMMO, the founder of Austin Poetry Slam.

August

  • Mike Henry’s documentary, SlamPlanet, is shown in a special screening at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in advance of the 2006 National Poetry Slam.
  • Austin hosts the 2006 National Poetry Slam from August 9-12!!!
    • It goes off swimmingly.

September

  • New Scoring and Quarter Final System Implemented.  This is the same system we use today.
  • “Tonight at Ego’s we unleash our first-ever QUARTERFINAL SLAM! Our new qualifying system divides the season into four quarters. Tonight, you’ll see the top scoring poets from the first quarter of this year slugging it out. The winner gets themselves a slot in the Slamoffs to choose Team Austin 07 and also our iWPS representative.” Confirmed poets in the first ever quarter final: Robin Blackburn, Andy Buck, Ruff Draft, Big Poppa E, Tony Jackson, Ohio Jake, Erin Livingston, Krissi Reeves, Love Robinson, Sarah Quenon, Minister Sin, & Danny Strack.
  • The 1! 2!3!4! Slam! – New Slam series hosted by Phil West. Poets read work in varying lengths, starting with a one minute time limit and growing to four minutes.
  • Features from Sonya Renee (Individual NPS Champion), and Jason Carney, (redneck superhero from Dallas).
  • Matthew John Conley hosts a benefit at Ruta Maya for the family of Trinidad Sanchez, a beloved San Antonio poet who passed recently.

October

  • This month, all month, we try a new policy: Only new poems allowed in the first round.
  • Taped open mic with videos entered into national contest and potentially on HBO ON DEMAND.
2007
February –

  • Special Feature by slam legend ROGER BONAIR AGARD from NYC / LouderArts at Ruta Maya, doing his one man show — Masquerade: Poems of Calypso and Home.
  • APS launches a new monthly show: CHANNELSURF: the Austin Poetry Slam Variety Show, starting with acts from MINISTER SIN, KRISSI REEVES, MARINER AIRLINES (ft. our own Hilary Thomas) X vs O: a new monthly winner-keeps- the-court head-to-head battle ft. ANDY BUCK vs. TONY JACKSON.

 

March –

  • Going away slam for Matthew John Conley. MJC has been at the heart of our community since he relocated in Austin years back. Austin Slam Champ, APS Coach on NPS Finals Stage, President of the Slam Council. The first person to get the APS logo tattooed on his body.
  • Feature by Billy Tuggle of Chicago.


April

  • Testing 1-2-3: APS Presents a night of safe sex awareness with hip hop, breakdancing, and poetry April 5, The Off Center, ft. NOOK BLACKLISTED INDIVIDUALS, B BOY CITY, & DJ NICK NACK. Hosted by Mike Henry and B Fran.
  • Features by Dallas Slam Champ Amy Weaver and Individual World Poetry Slam Champion Ed Mabrey!
  • Slamoff #13 at Ruta Maya World HQ. Hosted by Mike Henry with Phil West, DJ Hot Wings, and featuring a showcase of Austin Slam stars. Poets competing: Da’Shade, Andy Buck, Tony Jackson, Danny Strack, Krissi Reeves, Erin Livingston, David Hendler, Sarah Quenon, Amye Wilson, and Emily Shafer. 2007 team: Da’Shade, Andy Buck, Tony Jackson, Danny Strack, and Krissi Reeves)

May

  • Austin Slam featured on KLRU’s show ‘Downtown’. Austin’s PBS affiliate featured Austin Poetry Slam on the Emmy Award-winning Downtown series. This aired May 3, 2007 – Episode #302: Cutting Edge Care, Caffeine Culture and Austin’s Rhyme, Rhythm and Rune Rally.
  • Tony Jackson’s birthday celebration with prizes from Forbidden Fruit.
  • Feature by Clebo Rainey, father of the Dallas, TX slam scene.

June

  • Feature from Blair from Detroit.
  • Sock Puppet Slam!
  • Benefit show for 2007 National Poetry Slam at Dominican Joe, presented by ArtBulb. Featuring the Austin Under 21 Slam Team, Mike Whalen, Peter Nevland, Genevieve Van Cleve, Mike Henry, and more!
  • Benefit Bash on June 30th – Another big NPS fundraising show at Ruta Maya.

 

August – Austin hosts the 2007 National Poetry Slam from August 7 – 11! It goes off brilliantly!

October – Welcome to Roktober! This month, all month: Only new poems allowed in the first round.

 

2008
January – Andy Buck and Tony Jackson host. Dj Blue Valentine spins.March – At some point here we move to the scoot inn. (Red Scoot Inn)April – Slamoff # 14 – Tuesday, April 8th, Long Center for the Performing Arts (just opened and friggin’ GORGEOUS)

  • These poets competed: Andy Buck, Rob C., Ruff Draft, Lacey Roop, Christopher Lee, Erin Livingston, Tony Jackson, Da’Shade Moonbeam, Emily Shafer, and Danny Strack. Along with special feature poets Anis Mojgani, Zell Miller III, and Cry Havoc Action Choreography. Hosted by Slam Master Mike Henry, and backed by DJ Nicknack.

May

  • Features by David Hendler, APS Alum and current San Antonio Slam Champion, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz & Shappy Seasholtz (NYC Slammasters)
  • “Words in your Face: A Guided Tour Throught Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry” reading and booksigning by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz at Book People.
  • SPINNING THE BOTTLE: an Existential Comedy for the Cynical Romantic, featuring Two-time alumnae of the Austin Slam team, Krissi Reeves! Spinning the Bottle won two awards at the recent DFW Fringe Festival. (501 Theater – the future ND)
  • SPOKEN WORD II: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO – hosted by Shappy and featuring a set by Austin slam legend Ernie Cline. Plus Mike Whalen, Tony Jackson, Phil West, Danny Strack, Erin Livingston, Element 615 and more! Musical guests STRANGE POWERS and the newest, flyest, geekiest hip hop crew in town, SHOW ME TIGER! featuring Austin slammer Suzy La Follette.

 

June – Slam Scrimmage  between Team Austin and Team Acme.

July – Beloved Austin youth poet Shannon Leigh passed away on Monday.

August

  • THEY CALL ME WARRIOR, A Tribute to Shannon Leigh, held at Ruta Maya.
  • Austin competes at the 2008 National Poetry Slam in Madison, WI and makes the finals!  We ended up taking third place overall in the Nation!  Congrats to the team for all their hard work paying off!

2009

  • Shelia, Shannon Leigh’s mother and beloved founder of Austin’s Youth Slam passes away.  We can’t imagine anything more tragic.
  • We move to the ND (the North Door) full time, occasionally moonlighting at Progress Coffee.
  • Slamoff #15 – The North Door (ND) – 2009 Team: Faylita Hicks (champion), Tony Jackson, Big Poppa E, Christopher Lee and Danny Strack.
2010
April

  • Slamoff #16 – The North Door – 2010 Team: Danny Strack (champion), Lacey Roop, Seth Walker, Christopher Lee and Tova Charles

August

  • The 1st ever “Battle of the Slams” is held at the High Ball on S. Lamar. One of the first shows in this beautiful new venue, the show pits a 10 poet team from APS against a 10 poet team from Austin Neo-Soul, and is a great success.  It brings the communities together and raises money for both teams, which both need it this year.
  • Gabriel moves to Austin, and she is then unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer and passes away shortly thereafter.  Everyone is heartbroken.
  • Mike Henry retires as slammaster.
  • “Mike Henry’s Last Slam” occurs on December 15, 2010.
  • Danny Strack takes over as slammaster.
2011
January –

  • January 11, 2011 (1/11/11) Ausitn Slam Strikes Back, the APS Reboot!  Austin Slam moves to our glorious new home at the Art Authority, which soon changes its name to the 29th Street Ballroom, which changes its name to the Spider House Ballroom. The poets all come together and slam attendance blossoms at the new venue.

April

  • Slamoff #17 – 2011 Team: Kevin Burke (champ), Zachary Caballero, Lacey Roop, Good Ghost Bill, Jomar Valentin.
  • Phil Aulie passes away.  He was on the same youth team as Shannon, mentored by Shelia, and was one of the brightest lights in both Austin’s slam and improv scenes.  Dear universe – We will not accept another loss from our Youth Community.
coming soon…
coming soon…
coming soon…

Austins Premiere Showcase of Spoken Word and Slam Poetry