08/19/2012 09:56 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Highlights From the 2012 National Poetry Slam

The 23rd Annual National Poetry Slam took place in Charlotte last weekend. It's one of slam poetry's biggest weeks: a five-day competition that also serves to grow the art form, giving teams a chance to network, attend workshops and show off their skills to new audiences.

This year's competition featured 74 teams, with four making it through to the finals last Saturday. In the end, Slam New Orleans (or SNO) took the team title. Performance is key to slam poetry, and SNO used percussion, song, and even a little choreography to set the stage for their intense narrative. But SNO's words, flush with rhythm and internal rhyme, drove their performance. I did my best to transcribe a snippet from the video:

...she wasn't born with any physical deficiencies
yet she still got that disability talking about how she can't see
her new husband sneaking into her daughter's room
so we assume, cause ever since momma got married
Lisa ain't talked since that June

Cause since momma could never hear anyway
She ain't never noticed
She never noticed that conversation would drop...

You can watch all of SNO's powerful performance in the finals below:

Neo Soul took home the prize for best group piece with "MJ," a poem that works as a sort of retrospective of Michael Jackson. The poem interweaves snippets of Jackson's biography with song lyrics and fan commentary, and the four group members take turns speaking as fans, the press, and Michael Jackson himself. Here's a clip of Neo Soul's performance in the finals:

Like what you see? You can learn more about slam poetry and watch more great clips at the Poetry Slam, Inc website.