It's a big week for poetry in Colorado Springs. Not only will you find renowned musician and slam poet Saul Williams in town on Saturday night at Jack Quinn's (see Bang, p. 36), 32 Bleu and the Colorado Springs Progression Session Poetry Slam will also host San Francisco Poetry Slam Team member Big Poppa E on Tuesday night.
Those unfamiliar with slam poetry should find the event a great introduction to the raucous, lively, interactive event that Big Poppa E described as a "poet bar game."
"It's a way to scream and yell about poetry. It brings people into poetry that never thought they would get into it. The most common response is 'Oh my God, I never thought poetry could do that.'"
More specifically, a poetry slam is a competition held in a cafe, bar or even college cafeteria. Poets brave enough to take the stage are given a score from 0 to 10 by judges chosen from the audience. The audience is encouraged to boo or cheer the judges. Even the performers aren't exempt from the audience's audible wrath or admiration.
Opening the night will be a standard slam contest with local poets, followed by several warm-up acts including Stacy Dyson, poet laureate for the Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration, and master storyteller Lorenia Stallworth. The show's headliners will be Big Poppa E and his partner in words, Hilary Thomas.
Both Big Poppa E and Thomas appeared in the documentary SlamNation. Poppa E also appeared on HBO's Def Poetry Jam and BET's The Way We Do It. Colorado Springs is one stop on their Going to the Trouble Tour, which includes more than 40 venues on its itinerary.
Colorado Springs holds particular significance for Big Poppa E. Recalling his appearance in a show at Colorado College two years ago, he had nothing but praise for our burg.
"The people are amazing. It was a packed performance with people going insane for poetry. The people were so ready to share their enthusiasm. Every time I come to Colorado Springs I am embraced by the people."
The upcoming performance at 32 Bleu will offer plenty to get the crowd worked up. The most titillating offering will be the much talked about Haiku Death Match, where Big Poppa E and Thomas will try to one-up each other haiku for haiku.
Big Poppa E finds his and Thomas' work complementary. Whereas his style is what he calls "the stadium rock of poetry," Thomas' work is, as Big Poppa E puts it "beautiful, delicate, acoustic. She can genuinely think with her words."
The event is the largest that the Colorado Springs Progression Session Poetry Slam has conceptualized in the two-year history of the organization, and organizer Zedeka Poindexter hopes the event will raise awareness and interest in slam poetry here in Colorado Springs.
Also scheduled on the Progression Session Poetry Slam's calendar this month is a presentation of the nominees for the Pikes Peak Arts Council Poet of the Year on Sept. 23 at the Underground at 8:30 p.m. On Oct. 14 the group will host Blair, a poet, singer and songwriter from Detroit. Regular poetry slams are also staged every second and fourth Tuesday at the Underground.
For more information about the Colorado Springs Progression Session Poetry Slam, call 227-0086.
-- Tamara Matthews
capsule Big Poppa E and guests
32 Bleu, 32 S. Tejon St.
Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m.
$7 , All ages