By Despina Durand and Khrysta Ryan
Thursday June 19 the Providence Poetry Slam held an open mic night at AS220 including members from the youth team as well as new poets stepping up to the mic for the first time. Although this was not an actual slam, the mic was open to not only poets but musicians as well. A traditional slam consists of an elimination competition of poets based on scores from the audience. Instead, this week, artists signed up ahead of the show, with poets getting 3-4 minutes, and musicians getting 8 minutes of stage time.
Judging by the audience’s cheers, the open mic was host to quite a few poetry slam regulars. The artists presented poetry, hip hop music, a hoedown, and pieces that bridged the gap between spoken word and song. The diversity of the night broke the boundaries of what preconceived notions many people may have about slams. With poets of all sizes, gender and race the audience was able to hear from the full gamut of today’s American. Each poet brought their personal experience to life with relatable metaphors and analogies.
The show featured New York slam poet, Tonya Ingram, and Pennsylvania musician, Kevin Garrett. Ingram, who was born inCincinnati, grew up in the Bronx and attended NYU. She now resides in Los Angeles where she is working towards a Public Practice MFA at the Otis College of Art and Design. Her poetry focussed on her experiences ranging from being diagnosed with Lupus and growing in the Bronx. The range of subject matter is not meant to disturb the audience but to educate them. Ingram speaks from her heart creating a way to use her voice in speaking out about the issues at hand rather than sugar coating an experience.
The Providence Poetry Slam is built and expanded on a set of values which its participants hold very high. The host Laura Brown-Lavoie spoke of respect, safety, diversity, truth and the importance of support of one another.Though the room was filled with regulars, newcomers were welcomed with open arms.
The Providence Poetry Slam not only has a youth group but also holds a creative writing workshop every month. Poetry slams and open mic nights are held every 1st and 3rd thursday of each month, year around at AS220, Providence.
PHOTOS TOP: Vatic performs a poem, part spoken word, part song. (Photo by Despina Durand) Botton: Tonya Ingram and Kevin Garrett perform. (Photo by Despina Durand)