Prizewinning poets enlivened poetry slam at North City Bistro

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ely Barton and Rose McAlesse
at the North City Bistro
Photo by Devon Rickabaugh

By Devon Vose Rickabaugh

Three prizewinning poets from the slam poetry scene in Seattle enlivened The North City Bistro last Tuesday night with their hip-hop rhythms combined with fresh heartfelt performance poems. Rose McAleese, poet and filmmaker, said in order to be a slam poem the poem in must cry out to be performed. In addition the writing must be original, use no props, and follow a time limit. During the slams, 5 people in the audience judge the poem from 1 to 10 and the winner of that night is announced at the end of the evening.

In her first poem McAleese took her inspiration from Shakespeare: “I’m a Shakespeare nerd.” Lady Macbeth yells at Macbeth, “You want to divorce me. Fine you wish to divorce me. You silly crow, wingspan too short of raven, if not for me …. who will shine your blade?”

McAleese introduced her friends and fellow poets Ela Barton, poet, artist and Show Host who has formed an all age slam forum called Rain City Slam located on Capital Hill. And Raven Taylor who is a senior at Nova High School and currently working at Queer Youth Space, a non profit organization where she plans events.

Raven Taylor
18 year old poet
One of Ela Barton’s poems used a Scrabble game with points for each word to tell a story of struggle and suicide: “He found his language one tile at a time…His older brother Andrew gave him his first dictionary and said ‘this is your first weapon. Choose your words carefully.” As Rose McAleese said, “The word is more powerful than war.”

Eighteen year old Raven Taylor read “A List of Ten Things my Voice Sounds Like”: a little girl; all the pain that wasn’t good enough to sell; a white girl, that’s what they told me in middle school; a black girl trying to recite broken sentences, ghetto English, hand clapping on auto pilot…”

McAleese said that poets from Shoreline had joined the slam scene in the past and that she now has the pleasure to come out to Shoreline and “spread the word.” The Shoreline Public Library co-sponsored the slam along with the North City Bistro.


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