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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tucson to be slammed by poetry festival

    Starting off with a double poetry slam competition today, the Tucson Poetry Festival will celebrate its 25 anniversary with a series of events, including workshops, book signings and readings over the next four days.

    This year the theme of the festival is “”Poetry and Home.”” This is in part a commemoration of poets who call Tucson home, like Richard Shelton, Meg Files, Jefferson Carter and Barrie Ryan, but also a homecoming celebration for those who have left the Old Pueblo, such as Demetria Martinez, Simon Ortiz and Chris Lane.

    The festival will also focus on the connotations of the word “”home”” and its use in poetry. Members of the public will have a chance to explore their own ideas about “”home”” in several workshops that are run by the guest poets.

    The program kicks off today with a youth poetry slam at 4:30 p.m., followed by a Homecoming poetry slam at the Historic YWCA, 300 E. University Blvd., at 7 p.m., hosted by performance poet Chris Lane.

    Slam poetry is an on-stage competition between twelve to fifteen poets, for which random members of the audience are picked as judges. Lane describes this type of poetry as “”a very powerful performance. You’re up there to perform your heart out,”” he said.

    While other slams might allow themes and extras, today’s slam does not allow music, props or costumes.

    “”It’s just you, your poetry and a microphone,”” Lane said, and then hinted, “”Those poets who memorize their work tend to do better.””

    Lane is known for his efforts to popularize slam poetry, making it more accessible in Arizona. He works with a group called the NORAZ poets to promote and participate in slam poetry contests. “”It’s a team effort,”” Lane said, “”many people have been involved in bringing slam to the Arizona community.””

    The festival continues tomorrow with readings by Meg Files, Jefferson Carter and Barrie Ryan at the Historic YWCA, 7 p.m.

    On Saturday the fun continues at the YWCA with poetry writing workshops running in the morning, starting at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon at a cost of $10. These will be followed at 2 p.m. by a discussion featuring the guest poets on the topic “”Home: A Retrospective.”” At 7 p.m. there will be readings by Ortiz, Martinez and Shelton.

    On Sunday, a poetry workshop will be held at Bookmans, 1930 E. Grant Road, at 10:30 a.m., with Bilingual High School Poetry Contest readings following at 1 p.m.

    Admission to the readings is $5 for students and $10 for the general public. Poets entering the Homecoming slam can win a jackpot of $100.

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