Given the tumultuous election season we’ve all been forced to endure, we thought it might be a good idea to give people a platform to voice their frustrations. And since we were planning on having another Porters & Poetry in April, it appeared as if the stars aligned perfectly for the Uncommon Loons to host a poetry slam!
Well, it’s not a proper poetry slam in that it isn’t a competition, but we’re looking for people to bring their best slam poems in order to share the heat of populist spoken word in the face of a political system that, let’s be honest, looks to be turning its face away from us unless we become rich. Regardless of whether the ranks of the political establishment want to, we wanna hear what you have to say!
So what is slam poetry? In brief, it’s somewhat an extension of the hip-hop poetry movement, though with direct roots to the Beat Generation of poets, largely characterized by the rant fashion in which the author/performer talks about social and political topics.
If you want an example of what I’m talking about, check out poet Shane Koyczan giving a TED Talk that effortlessly evolves into his poem “To This Day”:
Here’s another example from the 2014 National Poetry Slam Finals (sorry the audio isn’t the best):
And, what the heck, one more!
Given the politics of division that have been happening in spades this year, we want everyone to come together for Porters & Poetry (& Politics), because we’re convinced the arts are a uniting force. We invite the whole of the community to come and do everything from burning Donald Trump to even trumping Bernie Sanders! Let us know about the injustice under the cover of mass media coverage! What’s the personal affront to dignity that has yet to be made public? We all want to laugh and jeer and maybe even cry, so if you have a voice and an opinion, and a rhythm from which to share it, we want the people to hear it.
And as always, though the theme is slam, we welcome all styles of poetry. So please bring out your best haikus and sonnets too! Join us at the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids on Friday, April 22, starting at 7 p.m.
For the past few years, we’ve put in an application to get into the Minnesota Fringe Festival. And for the past few years, we’ve seen our lottery number drawn somewhere in the ridiculously high range on the wait list; somewhere that essentially guarantees that we’re not going to make a trip to Minneapolis to produce a show. This year, same as usual, we found ourselves on the wait list. The only difference, though – and it’s an important difference – is that we were fourth on the list this time, which is a placement that essentially guarantees that we’ll get an offer to make that coveted trip.
And just this past Thursday, we received our official invitation to be a Fringe Fest producer! You may congratulate us.
So now the hard part begins: actually producing a show! Let’s be clear here, every single year that we apply to be a part of the festival, we don’t actually have anything prepared. This year is no different. So when we found out that we were likely going to get a chance, we began brainstorming a script right away. Within the first few hours, we had the gist of what the tone of our play would be. By the next morning, we had a proposed conflict for our supposed characters. Another two days later, there was an initial outline. And now, about two weeks later when everything became finalized with our participation in the festival, we’ve got the bulk of the first draft of the first act written. Progress continues to be made.
In brief, the two of us (John and Nathan) are using some of our own personal experiences dictate this story. As representatives of both atheist and Christian demographics, we thought it’d be great to produce a play that explores the differences between the world views as well as the means by which we can still coexist. The setting of the play involves two brothers who haven’t seen each other for years. One of them organizes a family reunion to get everyone back together again, though the other is hesitant about going because he renounced his faith and is suspect about how his extremely devout family will take the news – either that or how awkward it will be to keep this secret from all of them during his time back home. The cat, as they say, is let out of the bag, and the brothers have to figure out how, or if, they can reconcile this situation.
All of this is subject to change, of course. Like I said, we haven’t even finished the script yet, though the play will likely be some variation of what’s described above.
As the months go by between now and August, we’ll make sure to give little updates on our progress, so stay tuned. And we hope to see you at the Fringe Fest!