Monday, December 12, 2016

Call and Response

The Twin Cities of Spoken Word and Slam Poetry

In our plugged-in culture, poetry can be a tool of saving grace. Mediated by status messages and screens, we miss the visceral experience of witnessing someone tell a story in the flesh, complete with facial expressions, flailing hands or strained voices. Performing and witnessing those stories, shouts and emotions evokes a variety of reactions: identification, dissonance, disgust, redemption. Whatever the reaction, there is power in the public deliverance of words.

Desdamona recalled a performance on Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minnespolis: “In the space that’s not known as a performance space, it’s intimidating. You’re in the street, there’s cars going by, there’s people in the street.” Passersby reacted: some stopped to listen, others walked on the other side of the street. Recognizing the effect of telling one’s story was a revelation for Desdamona, “You did that. So they may not have heard what you said, and they missed the message if they walked to the other side of the street, but what you were doing had this power to actually push them over to the other side of the street!”

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Ed Bok Lee – “The Secret to Life In America” from “¿Nation of Immigrants?: Minnesota Spoken Word Artists & Poets Question the World.” From the Loft Literary Center, 2008. Used with permission of the artist.

Discovering Spoken Word and Slam in the Twin Cities

For Youth:

Canvas – St. Paul
Spoken Word Institute and Open Mic – December 27-30, 2010

Hamline University Poetry Slam

For Everyone:

The Loft – Equilibrium Spoken Word Series

Minnesota Microphone
Their calendar is packed with spoken word events.
And two articles from Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre explicate the local spoken word scene even more.

Minnesota Spoken Word Association
Urban Youth Poets: Quest for the Voice, produced with TPT

St. Paul Soap Boxing

Slam MN


Sierra DeMulder


Ed Bok Lee

Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre

Steph Pituc is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota.