Team Nitty Gritty 2013

Nitty Gritty Slam Makes it Official: It’s Going to the National Poetry Slam in Boston

Team Nitty Gritty 2013

Nitty Gritty Slam today announced that it will be sending a team of poets to The National Poetry Slam, held in Boston, MA this coming August. This summer will feature special events and fundraisers to fund the trip.

Held the first and third Tuesdays at Valentine’s in Albany, Nitty Gritty Slam held its first event in September 2011, making it the Capital Region’s first regular poetry slam in over five years. Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSI), the non-profit organization that oversees the international coalition of poetry slams, certified Nitty Gritty Slam in May 2012. This will be Nitty Gritty Slam’s second appearance at the National Poetry Slam.



All poets who participated in Nitty Gritty Slam events throughout the season received points based on their scores. The poets with the highest point totals for the season competed in the Grand Slam on Tuesday, May 7. This contest, the culmination of our second season, resulted in selecting the members of the 2013 Nitty Gritty team that will compete in Boston this summer. Representing Team Nitty Gritty at the National Poetry Slam will be the following:

  • Kevin Peterson, an electronics company employee from Albany, NY
  • Michael Sloman (aka ILLiptical, the Wizard of Mars), a Teaching Aide and SAAJCC Teen Camp Director from Albany, NY
  • Daniella Watson, a student at The College of Saint Rose from Middletown, NY
  • Christopher Fleming (aka Christopher The Poet), a poet, spoken word artist, and audio engineering student from Columbia, South Carolina
  •  Darian Gooden (aka Poetyc Visionz), an entrepreneur, motivational poet, performer, and host Albany, NY
  •  Aron Ervin (aka Algorhythm), an English student at SUNY Albany from Albany, NY

Coaching the team for the second year in a row will be Mojavi, a poet, performer, and teacher from Albany, NY.

“This year is full of excitement as we enter in to our second year attending the National Poetry Slam.” says Mojavi. “Boston is full of possibilities for Team Nitty Gritty as we have two returning poets from last year’s team and four new members who are all versed in various forms of poetry. It is a distinct honor to compete with the best of the best. I like our chances. We are going to bring our original, “Nitty Gritty” style to the national stage.”

This year’s team shared that excitement at the thought of going out to Boston and performing with and against the best poets and spoken word artists in the country.

Kevin Peterson, who is on the board of Albany Poets and has been writing poetry since he was 13 said, “I can’t wait to finally compete on the national level. After making the team last year, but being unable to attend, I’ve been dying for the chance to represent Nitty Gritty and Albany Poets. We are definitely going to turn some heads come Boston.”

Poetyc Visionz added, “I get an adrenaline rush every time I envision being on stage at the national level representing Nitty Gritty Slam and my hometown Albany NY. I don’t know if Boston knows what’s coming!”



The National Poetry Slam (NPS) is the largest team performance poetry event in the world. The first event took place in 1990 in San Francisco with three teams: Chicago, New York, and the host city. The event has been held every year since. This year in Boston, over 70 teams from all over North America, and a few from other places will converge for a week of “poetry, revelry and competition.”

“This is truly a dream come true for those of us have been a part of the local poetry scene and watched it grow into the vibrant and passionate community it is today,” Thom Francis, President of Albany Poets, who works as a web and marketing manager at WAMC Northeast Public Radio. “We’ve have worked tirelessly since the event series began to get a team together and ready to perform at NPS, so we are thrilled to be able to head to Nationals for a second straight year.”

Each Nitty Gritty Slam event begins at 7pm, and features an open mic, hosted by local poet and Team Nitty Gritty coach Mojavi, followed by the slam, held at 8pm, emceed by Albany Poets president and NGS Slammaster, Thom Francis. Anyone is invited to sign up for the slam, and five members of the audience are selected to judge the poems.

NGS is sponsored by Albany Poets, Urban Guerilla Theatre, and Frequency North: The Visiting Writers Reading Series at The College of Saint Rose.

“What makes Nitty Gritty special is that it’s an all-star team of the different reading venues in the area,” Daniel Nester, who is a professor of English at The College of Saint Rose and one of the slam’s organizers through the Frequency North reading series. “We’ve got diverse poets from all over the area, from all different ages, backgrounds and styles, all rocking the same microphone.”

“I never thought I would be competing on a National level!,” team member Christopher The Poet said. He moved to Albany from South Carolina just to be a part of Nitty Gritty Slam. “I’m carrying Columbia, SC on my back, and it’s an honor to share the stage with the Nitty Gritty Slam team. It’s one thing to know your purpose, and its another to live it. Life is good!”



To send the team to the Nationals and cover for travel, hotel, and meals, the organizers have done what any grass roots arts project would do: they’ve started a Nitty Gritty PayPal Pledge Drive.

Different donations reap different awards. Some examples:

  • $25 – A new CD of Nitty Gritty poetry.
  • $50 – A copy of the Team Nitty Gritty chapbook and the CD
  • $100 – An Albany Poets or Nitty Gritty Slam t-shirt
  • $200 – A commissioned piece of poetry from a member of Team Nitty Gritty
  • $500 – Your business logo or name goes on the team’s t-shirts, CDs and publications.

Special events are also being planned for the summer to help raise funds including the June 24 edition of the Poets Speak Loud open mic featuring the team.

For more information about Nitty Gritty Slam go to For comments or to arrange interviews with NGS team members, contact Thom Francis at 518-487-9170 or email him at



Albany Poets is a local organization whose goal is to promote the poets and poetry of Upstate New York. Albany Poets hosts open mics, poetry readings, slams, music and spoken word events, and the annual Albany Word Fest to increase participation and attendance in the local arts community. Albany Poets’ website,, is the most comprehensive resource in upstate New York and western New England for news and events listings for poetry and spoken word. Albany Poets mission is to give everyone the platform to share their poetry with the world. Whether it is at an open mic, on a website, or in print, Albany Poets strives to integrate poetry and spoken word into the Capital Region. More information at

Frequency North, the Visiting Writers Reading Series at the College of Saint Rose, calls itself “aggressively eclectic.” Events at Frequency North feature fiction writers, memoirists, graphic novelists, poets, slam performers, singer-songwriters, even game shows. All readings are free and are open to the public. Frequency North also regularly co-presents both on-campus and in the community. More information at

Urban Guerilla Theatre is a Poetry/Spoken Word/Performance artists’ collective based in Albany, NY dedicated to reviving, redefining, and revolutionizing spoken word. Held at the Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio, UGT employs various styles of poetry, music, spoken word and theatre to address life, love, relationships, and social issues. UGT also uses their open mic readings to host events and create an artistic space to house and develop artists and upcoming poets.

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