6/4/2014 9:48:00 AM Sedona Poetry Grand Slam Arizona's top 12 compete to join Sedona's National Poetry Slam Team on June 7
Slam poets Claire Pearson, Josh Wiss, Christopher Fox Graham, Tyler “Valence” Sirvinskas, Spencer Troth and Evan Dissinger, from right, will perform at the Sedona Poetry Grand Slam at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, June 7. Valence, Troth and Dissinger will compete with nine other Arizona poets to earn a slot on the Sedona team, which will represent the city at the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California, in August.
Photo courtesy of Zack Garcia
On Saturday, June 7, the best poets in Arizona will compete in the 2014 Sedona Poetry Grand Slam, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. State Route 89A, Suite A-3.
Tickets are $12.
The slam is the final the 2014 season, which culminates in selection of Sedona's third National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent the city at the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California, in August. Poets in the slam come from as far away as Phoenix and Flagstaff, competing against adult poets from Sedona, college poets from Northern Arizona University, and youth poets from Sedona Red Rock High School's Young Voices Be Heard slam group.
Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. While many people may think of poetry as dull and laborious, a poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays.
All types of poetry are welcome on the stage, from street-wise hip-hop and narrative performance poems, to political rants and introspective confessionals. Any poem is a "slam" poem if performed in a competition. All poets get three minutes per round to entertain their audience with their creativity. The poets will be judged Olympics-style by five members of the audience selected at random at the beginning of the slam.
At Nationals, the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team will share the stage with 300 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe, pouring out their words in a weeklong explosion of expression.
Sedona sent its first team to the 2012 National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., and its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass.
The 12 top poets who will compete on June 7 include:
Maya Hall -- Maya Hall is a triplet and a lover of life.
When she isn't busy working on poetry she's studying for an art education degree as well as gearing up for a masters in counseling.
She's ready for the path that poetry is taking her and is up for anything in this new, exciting chapter of her life and hoping to get her words out to a larger audience.
Spencer Troth -- Spencer Troth was born in the humble town of Mesa, after it was no longer a humble town. He has lived across the Phoenix Metro area, but has now learned to call Flagstaff his home. Having just completed his degree in Political Science, Troth is a fresh young adult looking to find his place in the world of politics, though he has always kept a special place in his heart for poetry. As a poet, Troth has competed in slams for about two years, garnering a place on Sedona's national team in 2012 to compete in Charlotte, N.C.
Troth has a writing style which can be saturated with images, and sometimes difficult to interpret, but claims that beneath it all there is a narrative which he wishes to convey in every piece.
"I have always tried to take a more normal experience, falling in love, traveling, experiencing a friend pass; and break it down into more abstract images and concepts. I think this is how my mind operates, and with poetry, my inevitable goal is to bring people into a place where they may experience the things which influence me in a similar fashion to how I am affected by them," Troth said.
Rowie Shebala -- Roanna "Rowie" Shebala, a Native American spoken word artist, of the Diné - Navajo - Tribe was born and raised on the Navajo Nation.
Given the gift of storytelling from her father she combines story, poetry, and performance.
Shebala constantly brings the voice of her heritage into her performance, and written work often treading into spaces where hearing native voices is unlikely.
In doing so, she hopes to reframe what it means to be a Native person for the masses, point out the appropriation of her people's culture, and reclaim an identity that has perverted by heavily edited versions of history, the invisibilization of indigenous peoples today, and the use of those people as caricatures for mass amusement.
Lauren Perry -- A slam poet for 11 years, Lauren Perry has been a four-time Women of the World competitor, representing Phoenix, Mesa and Sedona.
Something to be said for a Persona Poet - there is no box to think out of as they are not limited to one person but rather bring the voice another to carry the conversation outside any guidelines.
In 2013, Perry joined her fifth National Poetry Slam team, one that would rank seventh in the country and make it to semi-finals.
Her poems use great depth and multiple layers that tap dance back a round-robin to the beginning to tell more than one story but leave a complete image in the audience's head.
A born sarcastic, with a dark sense of humor, she's not one to not love or perform anything less than hard.
Valence -- Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas is a performance poet and new media artist based in Arizona.
Spoken word, performance art, electronic music, and visual art are all elements of Valence's artistic vision. In 2011, he began competing in poetry slams, and represented Flagstaff at the 2011 National Poetry Slam. In 2012, he won the Sedona Grand Slam, and in 2013 secured a spot on the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team.
Valence has lived in Arizona for the last decade, but was born in and spent his childhood in Chicago. Part of the last generation to know first-hand what life was like before the internet, Valence is grateful for anything that makes people silence their smartphones.
In the future, Valence has plans for touring, various projects, and a new style of performance art that combines spoken word with live video and music. At only 23 years of age, he's still somewhat green but definitely done screwing around.
Lauren Remy -- Lauren Remy is 16 years old and a resident of Sedona.
Remy has been a part of youth poetry slams for two years. People have likely seen her spitting some poetry at Java Love Café.
Remy writes metaphors about fire, or flowers, or space. When she's not spitting some radical poetry she's being a thespian at Sedona Red Rock High School.
Remy is a cool cat. But isn't as cool of a cat as James Gould.
Gould is inspiring to Remy because he isn't narcissistic in the slightest. Also, by the way, Remy is NOT James Gould's secret admirer.
James Gould -- James Gould is kind of a big deal. He is not only Sedona's "Most Successful Rap Battle Host Ever," but also a competing poet for the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team.
He performs poetry to get stuff off his chest, like breast reduction.
He lives and works in Sedona, as "The Best Web Developer You Ever Saw." He writes poems on subjects including, but not limited to, dinosaurs, free speech, his irrationally rational fears of babies and fans, and cute people.
"He is probably the best person ever, and not in the slightest narcissistic." -James's Secret Admirer (Definitely not James).
Gabbi Jue -- Gabbi "Truth Bomb" Jue is a spoken word poet, dancer, creator and survivor with an insatiable love for things that turn pain into beauty.
Tribulations and triumphs in her lifetime influence her art, which she uses to bring strength and hope for others and herself. She has been a member of the Northern Arizona poetry community since 2011 and was a member of FlagSlam's 2013 National Poetry Slam Team that competed at the National Poetry Slam in Boston.
No fear of telling it how it is, her tendency to speak her mind bluntly and honestly has coined her the nickname "Truth Bomb."
Joy Young -- Joy Young is a Phoenix-based spoken word performance and teaching artist.
A self-described "circus-poet," she believes that often, the best response to a world constructed of ridiculous assumptions and expectations is to be equally ridiculous. It is through the juxtaposition of perceived realities and the absurd that she hopes to unveil places of possibility and queer our understanding of the world around us.
Her unique body of work often explores nuanced understandings of gender, sex, and sexuality in ways that frame personal narratives as part of larger social justice topics.
Evan Dissinger -- Evan Dissinger is 24 years old and currently living in Flagstaff. He has been involved with slam poetry since 2008 and has been on two national teams; 2008 with FlagSlam and again in 2012 as a member of team Sedona.
Dissinger lives with one cat and is often found hunched over a canvas or cruising on a skateboard when not at his restaurant day job.
Dissinger is an inquisitive Aquarius with a unique interpretation of the world around him. Dissinger caries a timid boldness that can be found reflected in his art.
Verbal Kensington -- With a background ranging the spectrum from accounting to pyrotechnics, Meg "Verbal" Kensington is Necessary Publishing's Creative Director and competed on the 2013 Sedona National Poetry Slam Team in Boston.
She's also a writer, poet, artist, and mentor. Others know her as a verbal mercenary, with an uncanny knack for organization.
Her most valued achievements include the ability to speak unabashedly in the third person, the precise calculation of road-trip gas mileage in her beloved vintage Subaru, and the unobtrusive creation of an amazing array of late-night snacks.
She aspires to become more like her favorite animal, the platypus - the only earthly creature who is both astonishingly cuddly, and horrendously poisonous.
With her unique combination of extreme intelligence and stunning good looks, she plans to one day take over the world - starting today.
The Klute -- Phoenix-area crackpot Jerome du Bois once said of The Klute: "You have one of the blackest hearts I've ever had the misfortune to glimpse," so in 2007, The Klute received an upgrade.
With the implantation of a freestyle bioprosthesis, The Klute now has "superior flow characteristics." His heart remains blacker than ever.
The Klute, part man, part machine, all of him sarcastic, is a fixture of the Arizona poetry scene, having been on five National Slam Poetry Teams from Mesa (2002-2003, 2005-2006, and 2010) and four from Phoenix (2008-2009, 2012-2013).
In 2014 he will be published in anthologies by Write Bloody and Sergeant Press. He's a one-man psy-ops campaign bringing the system down from inside. He buys low and sells high. He keeps the Grim Reaper on speed dial and his absinthe on ice.
Christopher Fox Graham -- The Sedona Poetry Grand Slam will be hosted by Sedona poet Christopher Fox Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on seven FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2013.
Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.
Kaylan Rosa, Graham and FlagSlam team members Josh Wiss and Claire Pearson will perform between rounds at the Sedona Poetry Grand Slam.