Geek Beat: Poetry is for sissies

Hey, did you know it's National Poetry Month? Ok, it's also National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month and National Safe Digging Month (WTF??), but we didn't figure those were appropriate topics for a geek blog.

Why do we care? Though poetry may not be in the same nerdolicious class as Star Trek fanaticism or cosplay, anyone who has a voracious appetite for verbiage or waxes verbose is most certainly -- and proudly -- a word geek. 

If you read this blog's totally incendiary headline and balked (and understood the word incendiary), you might be a linguistic geek. If you read the headline and laughed because it's so true, well, you might want to check out some of the local poetry events, because -- NEWSFLASH!!! -- poetry isn't always boring, it's not only about dead white guys spewing depressing rhymes, and it doesn't all suck.

More on local poetry, and the hot girl above, after the jump...you know you want to look.


Here's a quick and easy, down and dirty look at just a few of the Valley's spoken word events:

Sound Effects Poetry Hosted by Bill Campana
8PM Monday at Mama Java's Coffeehouse
Style: Open Mic

If you don't want judgmental hacks railing on your prose and scoring you like wannabe Simon Cowells, this might be the poetry event for you. Everyone's welcome, it's totally free and you can score some killer coffee and rugalagh. Read a haiku. Read something by Poe. Read the angsty lovelorn drivel you wrote in eighth grade -- and no one will care if it blows chunks, or if you stutter. Or at least, they won't say anything about it. 

Pros: Good for newbies, no scoring, comfortable venue

Cons: Crude humor (sorry, Bill!), spotty attendance


Words in the Alley
7PM every 1st and 3rd Tuesday at A Shot of Java in Glendale
Style: Open Mic

This relaxed, friendly event takes place in an awesome brick alley in front of the coffee house and the neighboring pizza parlor. Grab a mocha latte and a slice from next door and listen to feature poets like Cat Klotsche and Christian Drake. There's also an open mic portion hosted by red-haired poetry goddess Dani Garrity, where you'll hear lots of different styles.

Pros: feature poets, welcoming atmosphere, outdoor venue (beautiful on spring nights)

Cons: hard-to-find location, outdoor venue (dust storms, rain, bird poop), not weekly


The Anthology Poetry Slam (a.k.a. the Mesa Poetry Slam)
8PM Thursday at Queen's Pizza in Mesa
Style: Slam


No, there's no body-checking involved in a poetry slam, although some annual infighting is likely when it comes to competing for a slot on this group's National Slam Team. Poets are judged by five audience members holding score paddles, and the winner after three rounds takes home some pocket change. Plus, everyone in BFE downtown Mesa -- Subway customers, ghetto rollers and the homeless -- will hear your poetry over the speakers placed outside.

Pros: Friendly hosts Bob Nelson and The Klute, hotties (like our front page siren Lauren Perry), good pizza

Cons: Competitive, same faces every week, scary for newbies


Mill's End Poetry Slam
9:30ishPM Friday at Mill's End Cafe & Creperie in Tempe
Style: Slam

The glaring pink elephant (or in this case, white elephant) in the Phoenix poetry scene is a serious lack of diversity. Sure, we've got green-haired lesbian vegans and white bread corporate drones, but that doesn't quite cover the spectrum. Enter Mill's End, the "melting pot" of the local rhyme scene. Black, white, Latino/a, college kids, blue collar, white collar -- basically, everyone but Republican rednecks has representation here. The place is usually packed, and hosts a variety of traveling/feature poets as well as a traditional scored slam. 

Pros: diverse, upbeat hip-hop vibe, good exposure for your work

Cons: crowded, loud, always starts and runs late


There are plenty of other spoken word opportunities in the Valley, but one face you'll want to be familiar with is poet Shawnte Orion (above), who co-hosts the monthly Caffeine Corridor Poetry Series at Copper Star Coffee in Phoenix. Orion has been instrumental in getting more poetry on the west side, including an open mic at Glendale Community College starting 4/16 and a 4-poet showcase at the West Valley Art Museum next Saturday.

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