PULLMAN, Wash. — Aspiring Palouse poets will have the chance to pit their wit against other local writers for a cash prize by registering for the area’s first poetry bout, the Palouse Punch, by Wednesday, Sept. 19.

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

The winner of the bout receives a trophy and a $500 prize, while the runner-up receives $250. Residents of the Palouse area are eligible to compete. A $5 entry fee will go toward the Ruth Slonim Poetry Fund, which helps bring writers to the WSU campus.

Event organizers will schedule the preliminary elimination rounds during the weeks of Sept. 24 and Oct. 8. Two poets will match up in a ring during five rounds with different challenges, such as reciting verse from memory.

The championship round will be 6:30 p.m., Oct. 17, at Washington State University’s Kimbrough Concert Hall. A reading by award-winning poet Victor Hernandez Cruz will follow the event at 8 p.m. The championship bout will feature two finalists sparring in seven rounds. Judges will score the poets based on the quality and originality of the poetry as well as a poem’s delivery.

Several celebrities will make an appearance at the championship bout including WSU’s Mike Price, head coach of the Cougar football team. Price will serve as the timekeeper. A national celebrity will count off the rounds as ring girl. The ring girl’s identity will be revealed at the end of the championship bout.

The Palouse Punch is the first event of its kind in this area. The World Poetry Bout Association, a community arts organization, has held several World Heavyweight Championships throughout the United States.

The Department of Comparative American Cultures at WSU is hosting the event. For more information or to request an entry form and rules, contact Callie Palmer, Palouse Punch contact person, at 509/335-2605.

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