It's almost here. After one year of planning, meetings, fund-raising in a less than prime economy, promotions, meetings, talent scouting, and meetings....the world's first Slam Poet Laureate program is preparing to take off. And what better place than right here in the 505?
After Albuquerque hosted the world's largest national poetry slam in 2005, carrying away the titel in the process, it seems only right that we should again be the torch-bearers and take the next progressive step in modern poetics by being the city to ooficially recognize a Slam Poet Laureate, picked by the people and recognized by the Mayor.
Truthfully it's the fact of these modern times that makes it this town, at this time, in this place the exact cosmic singularity that will be perfect for this ambitious event. So maybe you're asking...what the heck is a slam poet laureate? You were asking...weren't you? It's okay, it sounds weird at first, but think about this.
After 700 years of the old school, traditional appointment of laureates by a very select few individuals, who base their choices ona strict set of accomplishments, maybe it's time for an artistic spokesperson that the people want? Could be. After all, throughout time the poets have been the story-tellers and history-keepers of their times. From the early bards to the Beat poets in the sixties, poets have always recorded the events and attitudes of the times and usually serve as the voice of their times as well. In any social discourse involving change, you'll find some poets in the crowd. It's a given.
This is a good thing. Poets have the advantage of being able and willing to tread the dangerous ground and speak their minds, frequently capturing at least some whisper of the voices in the air at any time, echoing the fears, concerns and triupmhs of the people around them. So it's only natural that in a time like this we should pick an artistic spokesperson who is already active in the community, working with youth, or advocacy or social change. And that's what our poets are lining up to do....the winner of this first laureate title will serve the city as a liasion between the city and the arts community, promoting and developing literacy programs, spoken word programs for youth and more and all this while getting to work on their careers as writers as well.
To make this happen we're pitting twenty of the state's best spoken word maestros against each other in 3 nights of competition. These are poets who have proven themselves repeatedly in national appearances, international competitions, tours, publications, and more. Each night ten of the twenty will face off for a chance at the finals stage in June.
The first night, Wednesday May 20, we have twenty well established voices, past and present icons of the scene, who will battle it out at the South broadway Cultural Center for 5 spots on the finals stage, where a winner will get a professionally recorded CD by a local Grammy winning sound engineer, cash and more. Not to mention being the first person in the world to wear this crown....well, in this case it's actually iced out dog-tags...but you get the idea.
Plus we have the CW filiming us for the Daily Buzz and we have local spoken word legend Kenn Rodriguezand beat box queen SAYWUT coming out along with Asper Kourt and a mini-exhibition by the official artist of the SPL, Christine Montoya. If you want to see history happen and be in on making the all-important decision of who goes on...come out to the South Broadway Cultural Center Wednesday night. Tickets are only $7 or you can buy a bunch of them for $5 a piece. Either way, it'll be a brilliant night of poetics, music, and true New Mexico artistry burning up the night!