A grand slam competition will be held by the Long Beach spoken word club, ¡DUENDE!, this Saturday in order to form a team for the 2012 Brave New Voices Youth Poetry competition.
The community-based group breaks the norms of a silencing society by letting young members from the ages of 11 to 21 speak their minds and form opinion at weekly workshops and special events. The club was founded and is run by current Cal State Long Beach students, as well as CSULB alumni who share interests in social awareness and expression through the arts.
MADhaus, a Long Beach venue, will host the competition on Saturday. According to founder and CSULB alumna Michelle Jackson, a total of 12 poets from the ages of 13 to 19 will compete with their individual pieces.
While the group members, who come from various cities including Long Beach, Santa Ana, and South Bay, have witnessed slam poetry performances before, most have never competed on stage before. Slam poetry competitions usually consist of duels between two teams or individual poets who perform their expressions at high energy levels.
“Slam can be intimidating,” Jackson said. “This is the first time they have ever done something like this. We just want them to feel good.”
After three rounds of battles, the top six will be chosen by five judges to participate as a team in the Brave New Voices competition. The 15th annual international youth slam competition is going to be held in San Francisco from July 17 through July 22.
Poems performed at Brave New Voices derive from group efforts in both the writing and battling processes,said Mae Ramirez, creative writing grad student and program director of ¡DUENDE!
“Now with slam, a big focus is on a group piece or duel piece,” Ramirez said.
One of the main goals of ¡DUENDE! is to give voices to the youth while creating a positive environment where members can bond by working with each other. According to Ramirez, the group helps the youth discover the use of their voices to fight the power of the outside world that often works against them.
“It is the youth who are the forefront,” Jackson said. “We want to get their voices heard.”
¡DUENDE! was founded by Jackson; Ramirez; CSULB alumni June Kaewsith and Kasi Yates; and Monterey Bay alumna Patricia Pleatson.
The five women worked together to plan workshops, which lasted from Jan. 14 to March 31. During a typical workshop, performances are held, ideas are exchanged and debates are encouraged.
“We try not to make it lecture based,” Ramirez said. “We are looking [at] poetry through so many lenses.”
Plans for the next set of workshops are underway and are set to be held during the next spring semester.
“¡DUENDE! is here to stay,” Ramirez said. “We are going to keep doing this one way or another.”
MadHaus, located at 624 Pacific Ave, will host Saturday’s competition from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Suggested donation entry fee is $8 for general admission; and $5 for students and children