Dear San Diego Slam,

I am not the first, but I hope you will find my congratulations to be among the most heartfelt. You all have made yours and my dream come true. It's hardly conceivable that I can be this proud and excited for an accomplishment that belongs to you, but so goes the energy of love and community.

Your journey this season was built upon months of hard work, the years of excellence, a decade of commitment, and over twenty years of community-building. This is for the unsung heroes of San Diego, particularly the Taco Shop Poets, who brought spoken word to life in the taqueria over twenty years ago. It is for the hundreds of venues and thousands poets who made this community beautiful. It's for the slam teams before, and especially Angela Boyce, who left so much of their souls on that NPS stage.

I am incredibly thankful to each one of you. Chrissy, your growth in one season has been incredible to watch. Natasha, I consistently applaud your grit and determination to make something of this art. Viet, an OG who has seen it all with me from the days of Able Minded to final stage in Boston. Javon, you are the Angela Davis of this shit! Unrivaled intellect, fearless, and a catalyst for change. You are the premiere scholar of the field and the GOAT of NPS. Rudy, perhaps I am so overjoyed because I know what this means for you. You're the only person who loves this poetry more than I do. Your dedication to performing and to the community gave me permission grow as a husband, scholar, artist, and father – which is to say a man. You made them feel you.

It's not by coincidence that your victory comes at this particular moment in time. San Diego poetry is marked by its consciousness raising and commitment to social justice. I am full of pride that you won in the voice, spirit and el movimiento of our collective struggle. It is my sincere hope that your win at the National Poetry Slam encourages, reaffirms, and introduces our community of poets to the radical potential of words. This is an art and a community that changed my life – thank you for showcasing that change to rest of the nation.

In solidarity,
AB

PS: Everyone knows that I always say "chilling on the 1" AND y'all took it with the 1!