Light & Verity

Grand slam

A student wins a world title in slam poetry.

Román Castellanos-Monfil

Román Castellanos-Monfil

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Emi Mahmoud ’16 first discovered slam poetry—competitive performance by poets of their work—when she visited Yale for Bulldog Days as a high school senior. By the time she got here as a student, she was hooked. After years of performing, Mahmoud made it to the top of the game, winning the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam Championship in Washington, DC, in October. Much of her work reflects upon her experiences as a girl growing up in the Darfur region of Sudan. The winning poem, “Mama,” describes Mahmoud’s mother, a woman who is “flawless and formidable in the same step,” who “cradled bullets in the billows of her robes” and taught her daughter “how to get gunpowder out of cotton with a bar of soap.”

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