Today a friend invited me to an urban poetry slam at the renowned Bowery Poetry Club in SoHo. Far from being the stereotypical image of pretension and angst, it was a fantastically fun and engaging evening with some really intense and/or hilarious performances confronting current and complex issues. Tonight was the semi-finals of this year's Urbana Poetry Slam, so we heard readings from six up-and-coming poets who had already distinguished themselves from the crowd. There was one dud among the group, but the rest blew me out of the water. Despite the immense talent of all the poets, there were two definite front-runners, who did go on to win the night with their sometimes-funny, sometimes-tragic pieces.
The featured performer for the night was Roger Bonair-Agard (pictured above), a well-known and well-regarded slam poet from Brooklyn. His readings were spell-binding. If you want to hear one of his works, I'd recommend the darkly amusing The All Black Penguin, even though his performance tonight was much better than the one in the video link. In all, it was both a stimulating and entertaining evening.
|The emcee warms up the crowd and keeps the slam moving at a rapid clip.|
|The show's runner up, performing an homage to New York referencing the 9/11 tragedies.|
|The emcee giving instructions to the judges, who were randomly selected from the audience.|
|The top two contestants awaiting to hear the final results and the winner of the semi-final round.|