This week, I went to a local poetry slam. Although it was freezing outside, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, in downtown Louisville, KY radiated warmth. I witnessed something moving.
While charging visitors free admission, any time of day, the KMAC museum also holds a free poetry slam every month. The Tuesday night of December 5th marked the final Kmac Poetry Slam of 2017, however, many new faces were in attendance. All seats were filled.
Behind the stage floor, three giant shapes were attached to the museum’s simplistic wall: a circle, a square, and a triangle. They would light up suddenly and irregularly. At first, I assumed they were connected to the music system, but I was wrong. Apparently, it was part of an earlier exhibition. The three shapes represented different neighborhoods in Louisville. Every time a shape was illuminated, it meant an emergency call was being made in the corresponding area.
The slam was hosted by Mr. Spread Love and Maxwellsounds, the former of which volunteered, himself, to speak first. His delivery was enormous, but only a taste of things to come. Mr. Spread Love waxed poetic, nonetheless, on love, poverty, racism, and greed. Just as he ushered the audience into his world, he gave up the microphone, stepping back, with finesse, to let the next poet rise.
“The point is not the point. The point is poetry,” he declared, which I took as a reminder to keep an open mind. No matter what someone says, it is all just poetry. No use getting offended.
There were nine poets, in addition to five judges plucked from the audience. Maxwell sounds, who was responsible for the wiring and sound of the event, had created a submission based voting site accessible by smartphone. the voting scale ranged from 1 – 10.
Each poet read or recited his or her own, unique work. There was poetry about death, beauty, and current political issues. The loaded words of these artists left no one in the audience untouched. When an older poet raved about racial injustice in the school system, people were crying.
I advise everybody to attend a Poetry Slam, at least once in your life. There is truly nothing like the open sharing of minds; it’s powerful. These were broken people, just like you and me, sharing their thoughts and emotions – their very blood with you.
While everyone brought something heart-wrenching to the table, only two poets made it to the third, and final round: Lyric Kantrail and a talented young man who retains the right to remain nameless. In the end, Lyric won the cash prize.
“We pay our artists in Louisville,” Mr. Spread Love rightfully boasted.
The actual slam was just one of the night’s proceedings, however. An acclaimed local poet, going by the name of Oscifer, approached the mic at one point.
“He didn’t actually sign up for this,” Mr. Spread Love announced, “but I always have to show this dude off.”
Surprisingly enough, this Oscifer went into a poetic stream of consciousness, which I managed to capture and link below.
After a short intermission, local artists, Beats The Heart performed a short set. The four-piece musical act played only a couple of songs but was so mystifying I had to plug the band. Check out their two-song-set at the KMAC Poetry Slam, below.
The poetry slam ended at around 10, and I trudged back to my car in the cold, with a warmth I hadn’t brought. I had shared my soul with a few courageous poets and was entertained by some serious talent. I’m definitely looking forward to January and the next KMAC Poetry Slam.
(Photo from gotolouisville.com)