(left to right: Chion Wolf, Raouf Mama, Jonah Craggett, and Daniel Solomon)
Two Eastern Connecticut State University students walked off with the two top prizes in the Fourth Annual 2014 Connecticut Campus Slammer Finals, a statewide storytelling contest that took place at Connecticut College on April 26. Jonah Craggett, a junior from New Haven majoring in English with a minor in Anthropology, won top honors. Daniel Solomon, a junior from Woodstock majoring in History with a minor in Asian Studies, was the runners-up.
The 2014 Connecticut Campus Slammer Finals is held in conjunction with the Connecticut Storytelling Festival. The event is sponsored by the Connecticut Storytelling Center.
"This is amazing," said English Professor and Master Storyteller Raouf Mama. "This is the first time that two students from the same university have won first and second place."
The contest requires that students craft a five-minute personal story and tell it in a spoken-word competition scored on creativity, relation to theme and delivery. No props, notes or instruments are allowed. The competition is timed, which helps train students to hone their words and delivery to avoid penalty points given for exceeding the time limit.
Craggett and Solomon had competed previously on Eastern's campus in a local contest and then moved forward to the state finals. Campus Slammer is the "Final Four" for wordsmiths. Both Craggett and Solomon are students in Mama's storytelling class.
Writers, business people, storytellers, public speakers and performers constituted the five-judge panel. Chion Wolf, voice actress, producer and photographer for NPR Radio and host of "The MOUTH Story Slam" at the Mark Twain House, served as Master of Ceremonies for the contest.
Participating colleges included Eastern, the University of Connecticut, Manchester Community College, Connecticut College and Middlesex Community College. In past years, finalists have also come from the University of Hartford, Western Connecticut State University and Wesleyan University.