Scarlett Pedersen, Kelly Miller, Rachel Greene and Brian McCracken

by Molly Gilmore for OLY ARTS

Consider those impassioned poems about the state of the world—poems that are being not simply read but performed—that one sees all over social media.

That socially conscious, brutally honest poetry is also happening in Olympia, and the still-young poetry slam here has already hit the big time.

This is Olympia’s second year heading to the National Poetry Slam, happening Aug. 1-6 in Decatur, Georgia. The competing poets qualified at local slams, hosted weekly by the Old Growth Poetry Collective, and were top finishers at the Olympia Poetry Grand Slam in April.

The weekly slams are open to all, though all four members of the team headed for nationals are collective members: Brian McCracken, the collective’s founder; Rachel Greene; Kelly Miller, who won the Olympia Grand Slam; and Scarlett Pedersen.

Last year, the Olympia team came in about 50th out of 72 teams competing, said McCracken, who’s coaching for the second time.

“Our scene is very new,” he said. “The Seattle poetry slam is the longest running weekly show in Seattle. “My goal this year is to do better than last year.”

Local poetry lovers and the curious can see what the team is up to on Thursday night, July 28, when the poets will perform at Old Growth’s weekly Olympia People’s Open Mic.

“We’ll do group and individual pieces—basically all the pieces that we’re planning on throwing in preliminaries at nationals,” McCracken said.

What: National Poetry Slam Send-Off Show

Where: Ben Moore’s,
112 Fourth Ave. W, Olympia

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28 (sign-ups at 6 p.m.)

How much: sliding scale of up to $5

Get tickets: at the door

Also: This show is part of Old Growth Poetry Collective’s weekly open mic/poetry slam, happening every Thursday except Aug. 4, when most of the collective will be at the National Poetry Slam.

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