Clockwise from left: Roscoe Burnem, Elizabeth Acevedo, Clint Smith, G Yamazawa and Pages Matam make up D.C.’s Beltway Poetry Slam team.

While the Nats are inching closer to finally winning a championship, a lesser-known local team brought home the pennant this past Saturday. After five days of competition, the Beltway Poetry Slam team beat out 72 other groups at the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, Calif.

The secret to their success? Social justice, says Beltway Poetry Slam founder Sarah Lawson.

“They really set a vision to write works that mattered,” she says.

The team launched into the final session with verses about the plight of minorities in modern-day American and other topics in the same vein. Then, G Yamazawa, 23, ensured their victory with a piece about being caught withholding a smile from an unpopular classmate, back when he was in elementary school.

“They waited until the end to pull out G’s poem,” Lawson says. “He’s hard to beat.”

Excerpt from “Elementary School”

By G Yamazawa

I hated myself
for the shape of my eyes
so I became a bully,
because we all wanna’ feel
like America
We all want straight spines
that stand for what we believe in
but it’s funny
how flags and people
have the same knack
for politely waving at the ones
they’ve forgotten.

Beltway Poetry Slam hosts a local competition on the last Tuesday of every month at The Dunes (1420 Meridian Place NW), 8 p.m., $5.


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