Leah Marche: 2013 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Performing Art

You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives and the results are in. Introducing our Big Brain 2013 Finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award awards announcement and celebration on April 27, Chow Bella and Jackalope Ranch will introduce the finalists.

Up today: Leah Marche

Performance poet Leah Marche, a Phoenix native, says she's always been active in the local arts scene. "My mom put me in pageants when I was little," she recalls, "and there'd always be that question, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' And I'd always say, 'I want to be a writer.'"

See also: - Announcing the 2013 Big Brain Finalists - Meet New Times' 2013 Big Brain Finalists and Celebrate the Winners at Artopia on April 27

Her love of writing led her to college courses in journalism (she was the editor-in-chief of Glendale Community College's weekly) and, later, to a job as art director at a local music magazine. Journalism was great, but Marche secretly yearned to perform.

"The first time I got up the nerve to get up on the mic as a performance poet was in 2005," she admits. "I used to go to poetry slams to be inspired by others, then I'd go home and write. But I always challenge myself, and so I forced myself to go on stage. I've been addicted to performing poetry ever since."

That addiction led Marche to co-found Black Poet Ventures, a performance poetry group based in Phoenix, that same year. "Artists can be finicky and sensitive," she says, "and that can lead to a lot of disconnection among us. I wanted to create a place where poets were coming together, collaborating, supporting one another in creating great new work."

That great new work includes an upcoming Mother's Day show called Evangelina in collaboration with local actor Rod Ambrose. "It's about the power of women and our voices, and how mothers can make a difference in the world," Marche says. Concurrently, BPV is producing an ongoing biorhythmic series, which presents biographical stories set to a poetic beat, as well as a show about the life of jazz musician Miles Davis.

Marche, who works in the Herberger Theater Center's marketing department, has also participated in National Poetry Slam teams and is putting the finishing touches on a program for poets who want to cast a wider net. "I'm calling it Send a Poet," she says of the project, "and it emulates the e-card model, but with videos. I'll teach poets how to put together a video of their performance that they can send in an e-blast Poets can engage a larger audience by inspiring people via our digital world."

In what's left of her spare time, hosts The Bungalow Show, a weekly interview program on Radio Phoenix, an all-volunteer station that streams at www.radiophoenix.org. "I interview artists about their perspective on culture and arts in the Valley," she says. "I really try to emphasize alternative arts -- those unheard voices and unknown performers who are out there working."

Marche sometimes worries that poetry performance tops the list of those under-the-radar art forms. "There are so many poets working here, and constant events featuring poetry, and yet not many people know that we're out here, doing this work. I've sort of given part of my life to making sure that performance poets have a wider visibility in the Valley."

Buy a $10 ticket to enjoy an evening of food, drink and entertainment April 27 at the Monarch Theatre in downtown Phoenix. Meet the finalists and learn who won during our Big Brain celebration, Artopia.

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