Khary Jackson wins National Poetry Slam honors


The distinctive voice of St. Paul’s own Khary Jackson, aka ‘6 is 9’, won him sixth place in the individual division of the National Poetry Slam held in Austin, Texas on August 7-11.

This was Khary’s first time competing at the national level against over 200 other contestants. “I love performance poetry,” said Khary. “I like having the forum to share ideas with people who are interested in being challenged.”

Slam poetry is steadily growing in popularity in the Twin Cities. Khary is a member of the St. Paul Soap Boxing team. The team, under the leadership of Slam Master Matthew Rucker, made it to the semi-finals in the team division at Nationals.

Poetry Slam is competitive performance poetry started in the late 1980s by a construction worker, Marc Smith, in Chicago. The art form has since spread throughout this country and in some other countries as well. Poetry slam performers must write their own poetry that falls within the 3-minute performance guidelines. Performances are scored on a numeric scale of 1-10 by judges chosen at random from the audience before the performances.

“If you have a good time, they have a good time,” said Khary as he reflects on his performance in front of an audience. Khary participates at up to three Slams monthly, and he spends many hours weekly writing his material. “I always seek to find new things to say, and to find new ways to say it. My main goal is not to be boring. Not to bore myself, and not to bore others,” said Khary.

The Soap Boxing team holds poetry night every Monday at the Artists Quarter in downtown St. Paul and is open to all, with an open mike at 9:30 p.m. Poetry Slam is held on the first Monday of each month at the Artists Quarter in downtown St. Paul. Anyone can compete.

The Soap Boxing team will kick off the ‘07/’08 season with the official opening of the Slam on Monday, September 3. For information, call (612) 207-7991, or visit:, E-mail:

Jennifer Holder, Ed.D., a retired bank executive from St. Paul, contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.