Discourse on sexual orientation, Americas involvement in Iraq, and the angst of growing up escalated into visible drama at the White Plains Library on Wednesday night.
It was nothing new for regular attendees of the librarys monthly 1st Wednesday performance poetry series.
The 1st Wednesday series was started by the nationally touring slam poet Eric ZORAK Alan about five years ago. The monthly event begins with a noncompetitive open mic, continues with performances by notable poets, and concludes with a slam poetry contest.
Slammaster Alan, 47, strives to keep the 1st Wednesday scene as inviting to new performers as possible. He asks the evenings judges to announce why their ridiculously unfit to judge poetry before the contest begins. He cues in performance scorings by counting to three using lists of things like actresses named Rachel. And mostly, he smiles.
Its all about community because people share deeply personal stuff and thats priceless, said Alan, who has lived in White Plains for 41 years. I was so shy that I was told by a boss that they would pay for me to take an acting class ... The acting teacher helped me find a voice through poetry, and now Im here with the goal to make more poets.
Josh Miller, 20, was among five slam poetry performers and seven open mic poets to answer Alans call to perform this Wednesday night.
Ive done performance before and Ive always written, so this is a way I can combine the two, said Miller, before his third 1st Wednesday performance. Its not even a competition. They always reinforce that by being sarcastic when introducing the judges.
Miller, a Mercy College Student from Yorktown, said that most of his writing has shifted towards performance-style pieces since he began doing slam poetry this February.
Im always scribbling things down at work, said Miller, a waiter at Nicky's Restaurant and Pizzeria , I tried to not write for a day, and I couldnt. I wrote what Im performing tonight.
Other performers like José Ramos, 30, come to engage in a political debate with social commentary poetry.
One of the main reasons I come is to give a message about the current condition of our country, said Ramos, a Pleasentville resident. The wars in the Middle East are unnecessary and ineffective. I had family that went to Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank God they didnt die or get mutilated, but still, they had psychological damage.
This week, Ramos, who does office work for a medical company, shared a poem expressing his concern with corporations growing political power.
The 1st Wednesday crew has sent teams to the National Poetry Slam competition twice. A third team will be selected to go to this years championship slam in Boston this August.
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