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Best Spoken-Word Artist 

Zaire Imani

Owing to slam poetry's subjective scoring system -- judging panels are most often chosen from the crowd at random and can include folks of all sexes, races, moods and blood-alcohol levels -- it's often said that the best poet rarely wins. Unless that poet is Zaire Imani. Also known by stage name Mama Blue, Imani has held a perfect, undefeated record on the local slam scene for three years. She appears regularly at the Red Sea and during evenings organized by St. Louis Poetry SLAM!; nationally, she's performed alongside Gil Scott-Heron and at the National Poetry Slam, where she came in sixth overall two years ago. Not bad for a poet who, by her own admission, only started competing so she could pay her gas bill.

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