First Ever Palouse Poetry Bout Set to Score a Knockout Punch

PULLMAN, Wash. – Two aspiring Palouse poets will duke it out in the area’s first poetry bout championship, the Palouse Punch at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 17, at Washington State University’s Kimbrough Concert Hall. A reading by award-winning poet Victor Hernandez Cruz follows the event at 8 p.m.

The finalists are Taryn Fagerness, a senior majoring in American studies at WSU, and Azfar Hussain, a doctorate student in the English department at WSU.

Hussain, from Bangladesh, published his first work of poems, “Chromatomes,” when he was 18. He edits a journal of theory and practice, “Dis/content.” Fagerness of Gig Harbor, is editor of WSU’s literary magazine, “LandEscapes,” and a host of the KZUU program, “The Trisexuals.”

Much like a traditional boxing match, a poetry bout pits writers against one another in head-to-head competition. But instead of throwing punches, the participants parry with wit by dramatically reading their own work and composing extemporaneous verse.

Event organizers scheduled the preliminary elimination rounds during the weeks of Sept. 24 and Oct. 8. Two poets matched up in a ring during five rounds with different challenges, such as reciting verse from memory. Fagerness and Hussain will meet at the championship bout during seven rounds. Judges will score the poets based on the poetry’s quality and originality as well as a poem’s delivery.

A national celebrity will count off the rounds as ring girl. The ring girl’s identity will be revealed at the championship bout’s end.

The bout’s winner receives a trophy and a $500 prize, while the runner-up receives $250. The Palouse Punch is the first event of its kind in the area. The World Poetry Bout Association, a community arts organization, has held several World Heavyweight Championships throughout the United States.

WSU’s Department of Comparative American Cultures is hosting the event. For more information, contact Callie Palmer, Palouse Punch contact, at 509/335-2605.