Word Up

As relief to us denizens of the scorched cultural wasteland that is the summertime Valley, ARTlab 16 presents the aptly named performance art fest Wasteland Circus. The sixth edition of the event, which has been absent from the Valley for the past two years, features "big screen video works, performance art, frenetic music and dark poetry." It's slated for Saturday, July 15, at the "tragically hip hair salon and art gallery" Mood Swings, 520 South Mill in Tempe, located upstairs in Suite 205.

On the bill are poet Jack Evans, performance artist Annie Lopez, spoken-word trio The New Subterraneans, video artists Steve Gompf and Sharri Weinberg, folk singer Page, "underground cultural maven" Jeff Falk, and beat musicians Alan Jones and Joe Willie Smith. A certain "Mr. Pain" serves as master of ceremonies. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the adults-only show starts at 8. Admission is $8; we are assured that it's not for the squeamish. For details call 480-968-0268.

Then, three days later, spoken-word enthusiasts will be offered further relief, when the SlamAmerica Tour, a nationwide bus tour involving around 100 slam poets in all, passes through the Valley. The first-of-its-kind tour, which started in Seattle on July 9, is scheduled to stop on Tuesday, July 18, at Billy Gordon's, 1320 East Broadway in Tempe. Showtime is 8:30 p.m.; call 480-968-3236 for cover price and other details. That tour continues through Tuesday, August 8, when it arrives in Providence, Rhode Island, just in time for the 2000 National Poetry Slam, which runs in that city from Wednesday, August 9, to Saturday, August 12.

Fifteen to 20 poets perform on each leg of the tour. Among those on the "Southwestern" leg scheduled for the Tempe show are Eirean Bradley, known for confessional works on both the Phoenix and Albuquerque slam scenes; Jason "Shaggy" Gossard and Amalia L. Ortiz of the San Antonio scene; Austin slammer Mike Henry; Ben Porter Lewis of the Los Feliz community in Los Angeles; and another L.A. bard known simply as Poetri.

The bill also includes Albuquerque resident Kenn Rodriguez, whose works tend to run toward political humor, and well-known slam veteran Danny Solis, a two-time National Slam team champ who also now makes his home in Albuquerque.

Go to for more details on Poetry Slam Inc., and to for information on the SlamAmerica Tour.