Pack Competes in National Poetry Slam

  • Published
  • By By Senior Airman Samuel Earick
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – A National Air and Space Intelligence Center Airman represented Dayton in the Individual Word Poetry Slam event last month in San Diego, Calif.

Senior Airman Yahel Pack, a member of NASIC’s Geospatial Intelligence Squadron, was the first member of the Miami Valley community selected to attend the event since 2006.

Poetry Slam is a multi-round competition of spoken word poetry that was created in 1984 by Marc Smith with the purpose to make poetry more popular. According to the event’s website, the Word Poetry Slam is a four-day poetry festival that brings together 96 of the best performance poets from North America as well as a few poets from other locations around the world.

For Pack to be able to compete in the event, he first had to place in one of the preliminary local slams and then win the local grand slam. He did both successfully.

“I started doing poetry at the age of 18 when I was still in college as a way to express myself and not be so nervous,” said Pack. “I then became a part of the slam team for the Buffalo State (N.Y.) team that they had put together to compete in the very first intercollegiate poetry slam, which we won.”

Slams can be done in teams or individually. The contestant or contestants must write the poem with no music or props, and it must be three minutes or less. Five random judges are picked from the crowd to grade each poem from a score of 0-10. When the contestant is done, the best score and worst score are dropped and the rest are averaged.

Ultimately, Pack placed 50th. Though he didn’t win, he says competing was still a worthwhile experience. 

“It was an eye-opening experience to have people relate to my very personal poem,” he said.  “I realized people may have gone through the same things I have or know of someone who has and hearing it could help them in some way. If not only to provide solace in the fact that they aren’t isolated.”

 Back at NASIC, Pack’s coworkers say they are proud of his accomplishments outside of the office.

“Pack is an extremely bright and passionate individual. When he speaks about his poetry, you can tell that it's something he cares deeply about, as it grants him a voice that he may not feel like he has otherwise,” said Staff Sgt. Barry West, a member of NASIC’s Geospatial Intelligence Squadron. “I was quite impressed when I heard that he was selected to attend an international event, as it shows how much dedication he has to his craft and his willingness to take on challenges head on.”

Pack preforms at the Yellow Cab Tavern during the open mic poetry slams on the first and third Sunday of the month at 7 p.m.

“I love it so much and I will continue to do it for as long as I can,” said Pack.