For the Summer 2015, I have the wonderful opportunity to be the intern at UrbArts which is located in St. Louis, MO. First what is UrbArts? UrbArts is a non-profit organization that exists to create platforms and platform creatives for the development of youth and betterment of community. It now is located in Old North St. Louis right down from the historical Crown Candy. The venue is really amazing. It is a gallery, event space, and mini book/art store for the community. It host events that range from poetry slams to book signings. My first official task as a intern was to take a trip to the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in Little Rock, AR. Here's my review:
Southern Fried 2015
People from around the region travel to the Southern Fried annual poetry competition that this year was held in Little Rock, AR for the family atmosphere. Traveling with the UrbSlam 2015 St. Louis Slam team we were quickly introduced to the family and the theme, "festival". From there the weekend was filled with networking and workshops. There was definitely something for everyone.
The first day was mostly an introduction where the attendees got to hear one of the Last Poets, Abiodun Oyewole, speak and welcome us to the festival. From there we attended our first bout which consist of about 4 teams to begin the competition spread over the city at about 5 different venues. Quickly it became apparent that the bouts were not well organized lacking judges and proper facilitation of the rounds.
The second day was a bit better with better run bouts. I did have the opportunity to attend some of the showcases that were being held outside of the competition like "Phenomenal Women". Some of the venues for these events were uncomfortable to stay in with the unbearable heat and repetition of artist on the mic, however it was fun to see people sharing their love. The workshops were enlightening and fun to attend. There was some great information provided and great networking opportunities with the other artist.
At night is when the activities were really exciting with a nightly poetry cipher at the bridge. Artist even shared other talents like music making, rapping, or juggling. The atmosphere was a place of freedom and acceptance. Though our host hotels were separated poets still came out, even the locals were joining in. Damgoode pizza had to be the rock-star eatery of Little Rock inviting us in and giving us GREAT pizza.
Our team consisted of two veterans and two newbies, myself included. As newbies my teammate and I got the experience of a lifetime. By the time finals came, even though our team didn't make it we happily watched the concluding event. We did however get to cheer our teammate, Salena, on in the Indie final stage. Overall, Southern Fried was filled with a family atmosphere that welcomes all poets from everywhere and Little Rock did its best to host a dynamic and diverse group of artist. Definitely one for the books next year.
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