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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Playful poets make for fun poetry fest

    Cecilia Alvarez
    Ceciila Alvarez / The Daily Wildcat Award winning poet Matthew Conley is the Director of the Tucson Poetry Festival being held this weekend.

    April is National Poetry Month, which will be celebrated this weekend with a free lineup of poetry readings, workshops, bands, competitions and book signings. “Poetry at Play” is the theme for this year’s festival.

    The weekend-long annual Tucson Poetry Festival brings in six poets from out of town, each of whom will show how language can be played with and bridge the gap between poetry and music.
    The festival is one of the oldest poetry celebrations in the country, dating back to 1981.

    “The original idea was to bring in the best of the best poets and bring them in to Tucson,” said Matthew Conley, executive director of the Tucson Poetry Festival, “and then to get artists and community members together with a theme in mind. This year we came up with poets that are playful poets.”

    Contributing to this year’s theme will be nontraditional open-mic opportunities called “Verses/Versus.” Other events include poetry spelling bees, Twinkie-eating contests, rap battles, embarrassing story-offs and haiku death matches. This unique form of audience participation creates a challenge from choices drawn at random from a hat.

    From 7-8 p.m. on Friday, three poets will read, including the 2014 High School Contest Winner, who has yet to be chosen, winner of the 2011 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Championship RC Weslowski and “Fresh Poet” award-winner Xavier Cavazos. The last event of each night is a rock show performance by Algae & Tentacles, Aroma and Sutcliffe Catering Co.

    “There’s a lot of new energy happening this year with the event,” said David Slutes, the entertainment and booking director for the Hotel Congress. “There’s a lot of neat, creative folks here and we’re really excited to be a part of it.”

    Poets will continue to demonstrate the playful potential of language through readings Saturday from 7-8:45 p.m., followed by round two of “Verses/Versus” and a book signing of the weekend’s poets. The night concludes at 10 p.m. with the After Party Dance.
    “Everyone can work together and create something new this weekend, even if it is just a new way of thinking about the art,” Conley said.

    Conley said collaborative fundraising efforts will make all the events at Hotel Congress this weekend free.

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