September 15-16, 2017
Lexington, Kentucky

Slam History

The Wild Women of Poetry Slam has thrived since 2006 as an opportunity for nationally renowned spoken-word artists to perform in a women-only slam. Formerly known as the Gypsy Poetry Slam, it has taken place in various venues and featured a stellar cast of headliners and winners from throughout the United States.
 
In 2015 we marked the ten-year anniversary of the Wild Woman of Poetry Slam and the final year of slam founder and artistic director Bianca Spriggs's tenure in that role. You can read Bianca's farewell message on Facebook here. You can view photos from the 2013 slam here. See winners, celebrity judges, and venues from the past ten years here.
 
The Faith A. Smith Poetry Prize, established in 2011 by Kentucky poet Frank X Walker in honor of his mother, is awarded to the winner of Wild Women of Poetry Slam. It carries a $500 cash award, and an existing prize of $300 is awarded to the runner-up, making the slam one of the most generous in the country.
 
Frank X Walker co-founded the Affrilachian Poets, is former Poet Laureate of Kentucky, and a Professor of English at the University of Kentucky. “I wanted to support the Gypsy Slam because anywhere there are women speaking with that much courage and conviction, it reminds me of my mother. She was a multi-disciplinary artist who celebrated creativity and social justice, and it’s easy for me to imagine all the energy she and her fellow female Pentecostal ministers exhibited from the pulpit being redirected at a poetry slam that features women. She was always ahead of her time. She used to say that she was raising me to be a minister until she came to one of my poetry readings and decided that she had accomplished her goal.”
 
2016 highlights

  • Melissa Lozado-Oliva of Boston, MA, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Siarra Freeman of Bedford Hills, OH, winner of Faith A. Smith Poetry Prize
  • Rachel Wiley of Columbus, OH, runner up
  • held at Carrick Theatre, Transylvania University

2015 highlights

  • Jessica Helen Lopez, of Albuquerque, NM, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Lisa Marie of Covington, KY, winner of Faith A. Smith Poetry Prize
  • Christina Boyd of Durham, NC, runner up
  • held at the Downtown Arts Center, operated by the City of Lexington

2014 highlights

  • Ellen Hagan, Kentucky native now living in NYC, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Franny Choi of Providence, RI, winner of Faith A. Smith Poetry Prize
  • Teresa Davis, runner up
  • held at Carrick Theatre, Translyvania University

2013 highglights

  • Sonya Renee Taylor of Oakland, CA, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Eris Dyson of Cleveland, OH, winner of Faith A. Smith Poetry Prize
  • Chauncey Beaty of Greenville, SC, runner up
  • held at Carrick Theatre, Translyvania University

2012 highlights

  • Tara Betts, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Whitney Greenaway, winner of Faith A. Smith Poetry Prize
  • Rose Smith, runner up
  • held at Carrick Theatre, Transylvania University

2011 highlights

  • Krista Franklin, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Mahogany Browne, winner of first Faith A. Smith Poetry Prize
  • Ciara Miller, runner up
  • held at the Downtown Arts Center, LexArts

2010 highlights

  • Patricia Smith, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Lauren Zuniga, winner
  • Laura Yes Yes, runner up
  • held at the Downtown Arts Center, LexArts

2009 highlights

  • Rachel McKibbens, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Radhiyah Ayobami, winner
  • held at Victorian Square, downtown Lexington

2008 highlights

  • Samantha Thornhill, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Shelly Davis, winner
  • held at Victorian Square, downtown Lexington

2007 highlights

  • Christa Bell, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Donna Ison, winner
  • held at Victorian Square, downtown Lexington, part of Stop the Violence

2006 highlights

  • Patricia Smith, headliner and celebrity judge
  • Mona Webb, winner
  • held at Victorian Square, downtown Lexington