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Spokane Poetry Slam Features Black Voices

Spokane Poetry Slam

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many events to move online, and the Spokane Poetry Slam is no exception. They’ve been hosting their monthly event online since March. But this Thursday, in light of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in Spokane and around the world, they’re hosting a special open mic, virtually of course.

A poetry slam is usually a competitive event, with judges awarding scores for each performance and a winner announced at the end of the evening. But this month’s event will have a different focus.

“I thought it was important to create space for Black voices who are silenced way too often. And my hope is that we’ll have a lot of attendance regardless of race and that we’ll have people come and just be able to listen and be educated.”

That’s Spokane Poetry Slam organizer Nick Keaty who says while the event will be open for anyone to attend, the mic will be open only to poets and performers who identify as Black or African American. 

Instead of hosting the event as usual, Keaty is also passing MC duties to Seattle-based poet Champagne Ryder, who will serve as guest host. Ryder, who is Black, says performance poetry has long been used as a vehicle for social change. 

“Going back to like the Beat generation. We’re talking about like Allen Ginsberg and talking about the Harlem Renaissance. These have always been protest forms of the culture, right? There’s always been a counter-culture with this type of speaking out and protest. So, it’s like slam poetry has always been the voice of the people.”

In addition to an open mic, the event will also have a featured performer, poet, musician, and model Marina Lotus. Organizer Nick Keaty says attendees can expect more than just poetry.

“I told Marina that she can bring any kind of music or whatever. We’ll find out. I just decided though we are a poetry organization, the point is art. And I think especially right now, there are so many ways to lift up voices and there are so many ways to open the space to whatever our Black friends need to be heard.”

Sign ups for the open mic begin at 7:00 p.m. and the event starts at 7:30. You can find more details and a link to the Zoom event at the Spokane Poetry Slam Facebook page

Chris Maccini previously worked at SPR as Morning Edition host and producing arts and special programming such as The Bookshelf, Poetry Moment, Northwest Arts Review, special features and more.
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