Day 1 of the world's only Slam Poet Laureate Program

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!

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Tags: albuquerque, art, beat, city, community, duke, events, first, hip-hop, historic, More…history, literary, live, may, music, performance, poems, poet, poetry, slam, spoken, wednesday, word

Comment by JMG on May 20, 2009 at 11:47pm
I wish some of these legendary slam poets would support the fabulous high school age slam poets in Albuquerque... or even just attend their events! These young poets blow me away and it's frustrating to see such poor attendance at their competitions.
Comment by Zachary Kluckman on May 21, 2009 at 12:42pm
I agree....at the same time I can say that this is one of the ways we hope the Laureate can help, by coming out and supporting these events and encouraging more active particpation by poets and artists in the city. Of course part of this is also due to the other social committments many of the poets have working with youth, advocacy programs, social and political campaigns, in school residencies, etc. But this is by all means one of the areas we want to have the Laureate focus on......
Comment by Carlos Contreras on July 27, 2009 at 4:59pm
It is event specific if you ask me. I slam here in Albuquerque and have to say that you may have been at an event that was sparcely attended. However, please don't downplay what is done for youth in this city by way of adult performers... many of us do stints at charter schools, host youth events, and produce workshops for them as well... check out chromabq.com its a site that lists some upcoming workshops that are free for youth.. we do alot. I too sometimes get down when there's not a whole lot of us at a particular event, but I have to defend my peeps and say its not because we dont care, often because we are busy just like everyone else
Comment by JMG on July 27, 2009 at 6:06pm
You're right, and my daughter has benefitted from several of these workshops and other events you guys put on. She just got back from the Chicago national competition with her team from albuquerque high. Marc Smith was there (so what). It was hugely inspirational for them. I will try to get her to post notice of their events on DCF in the future. It would be great if you guys could check them out.

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