Since 2008, SPARC Poetry has brought together nationally ranked poets to teach students to both write and perform. SPARC offers a variety of lessons that reinforce many English literary devices, as well as introduce public speaking as a vital skill. SPARC Poetry provides the option for students to join Poetry Slam teams through our unique after-school program. Students are encouraged to work in groups and take on leadership roles in order to sharpen their writing, strengthen their performance, and claim victory! A few of these students will be joining the Word Church to share their work.
Chris "L7" Cuadrado is a poet, MC, hip hop producer, photographer, graphic artist, creative director, and community organizer from Inglewood CA, currently based in San Francisco, CA. L7 centers his community and oppressed people's within his work and seeks to challenge and dismantle structures/systems of power and oppression.
***EARLY START TIME: To catch the group round, be there by 5:30!***
This is a very, VERY special slam, because it is FINALS!!!! 6 of the top scoring poets from throughout the '18-'19 slam season, and the 2 top scorers from the Last Chance Slam will be competing in a 3 round slam finals to determine which 5 poets make it onto the 2019 Legendary Poetry Slam Team, who will compete regionally and nationally against other teams. The first round will be team pieces, followed by two solo rounds, so be sure to come early! Our guest host for Finals is the one and only, poet extraordinaire and host of the Berkeley Slam, Jaz Sufi.
Wil Gibson currently lives in Humboldt County, California where the trees are big. He has had 5 collections published by kind people, and has been included in a number of anthologies and lit mags both online and in print, such as Marsh Hawk Review, Button Poetry, Midwestern Gothic, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Cascadia Rising, Collective Unrest, Yellow Chair Review and many more. He has twice been nominated for both a Pushcart and Best of the Net, and currently spearheads the Redwood Poetry Project.
You can find links to books and more info at wilgibson.com
Janae Johnson is a Black Queer Poet, Community Organizer, Curator and Teaching Artist. She is the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion as well as the 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion. Janae is also the Co-Founder of two nationally recognized poetry venues: The House Slam in Boston, MA and The Root Slam in Oakland, CA.
Michael “Mic” Ting is an Asian American poet born and raised in the Bay Area. He has competed on three national slam poetry teams, and in 2015, he helped Team Palo Alto take 2nd at Group Piece Finals during the National Poetry Slam. In addition to performing as part of a team, Mic has also competed as an individual at IWPS 2018 (Individual World Poetry Slam), InkSlam, Southwest Shootout, and NUPIC (National Underground Poetry Individual Competition). His work can be found on PSI, SlamFind, and Write About Now. Mic is also the reigning 2018 IWPS champion and currently ranked as the #1 slam poet in the world.
“Javi Somejo is a Filipino American poet, screenwriter and, of course, nurse. Raised in part, by an irrational fear of the ocean, they seek to traverse the sticky collision of family, queerness, god, and loss all the while staying afloat. In a heavy world, they use their work as a means of redemption, as a way to rename trauma as joy, as a celebration of survival. They were on the Berkeley Poetry Slam 2018 team who went on to compete at the National Poetry Slam and also the Berkeley Slam’s 2018 IWPS representative and Berkeley’s No Man’s Slam’s 2019 representative. They also love mangoes, donuts, and other things that melt sweet in the mouth. They’re prediabetic so it’s a constant struggle. “
This is a VERY special slam, because it is the last chance for poets to qualify for Finals which will take place at the end of April. The TOP 2 scoring poets from the Last Chance Slam will automatically join the 6 highest scoring poets from the season for a chance to represent Santa Cruz poetry on the 2019 Legendary Slam Team.
“Devi Gonzales is a queer, transfemme poet from Santa Cruz, who has been writing and performing their poetry since 2010. In 2014, a friend brought them to the Tannery to attend an open mic at The Art Bar and, since then, their world has never been the same. Devi has a passion for all performing arts and also enjoys singing, acting, and dancing. Their poetry is a story they are telling themself—a discovering and learning of how we survive, thrive, and claim the intersecting identities we hold—and each line becomes part of their personal mythos. Devi believes words are power, and that the sharing of words empowers a community.”
Chestina Craig (she/her) lives in Monterey Bay, California with her cat. Her work has been published by Crab Fat Magazine, Sea Foam Mag, Button Poetry and others. She has presented her work at The Presidents Commission on The Status of Women, The Young Women’s Empowerment Conference, & more. She has a degree in Marine Biology, loves to meld science and art, and sometimes pets sharks or hangs out with octopi. She hopes that one day she will only be required to wear gauzy clothing, study the ocean, and get paid to have too many feelings. Her chapbook “body of water” came out October 2017 with Sadie Girl Press. You can find more information at chestinacraig.com.
”Jessie Marie is an urban modern artist with vast influences, so many styles and creative techniques have helped her become who she is on and off the page, and the learning never ceases. She has had the luxury of living and evolving as an artist throughout the bay area for most of her life, be it through music, poetry, and as a visual artist. Though falling in love with visual art in her late teens, she started doing live art in the SF and Berkeley music scene around 2007 and has collabed and fostered creativity publicly ever since. Knowing so many performers and artists doing their thing, growing up and out, is indeed something to dream of... She loves learning and evolving through life’s experiences and bringing her creativity to the surface as often as possible; She breathes through the canvasses her fingers bleed life into as if she would suffocate without this practice.”
“Cierra Green, Bobbi Kindred, Jolinda’s baby, and Storyteller, because there are multiple energetic beings that exist within Them and each must be honored. Storytelling is how they honor the wounds within themself that still gape, and how they invoke the spirit of their ancestors' tongue when they share communally, and they deeply believe in the power of storytelling to heal the inner child. They have just published their first book, "This (Boi)yant Body: Narratives of a Queer Black Boi and the Waters that Carry Them", a collection of poetry and prose.”
”Daniel B. Summerhill is a poet and performance artist from Oakland, California. He holds an MFA in creative writing. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Califragile, Lilly Review, Blavity, Button, Street Light Press and others. Daniel has toured both nationally and internationally in Europe and South Africa and has performed at venues such as Def jam Poetry Reunion, Vocals and Verses, SoFar Sounds and others.”
“Janae Johnson is a Black Queer Poet, Community Organizer, Curator and Teaching Artist. She is the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion as well as the 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion. Janae is also the Co-Founder of two nationally recognized poetry venues: The House Slam in Boston, MA and The Root Slam in Oakland, CA.
Her poetry has appeared in outlets such as ESPN, PBS Newshour, and Kinfolks: A Journal of Black Expression. Janae currently resides in Berkeley, CA and enjoys discussing Stevie Wonder, and Black Musicals.”
"Venus Jones is more than an author, actress, educator, and poet. She’s a social change agent waging peace through poetry. She writes and speaks about empowerment, diversity, and being true to yourself. As a writing coach and performer, she inspires individuals to rise to their highest potential. She has been compared to Maya Angelou and praised by Whoopi Goldberg and poet Nikki Giovanni. The Langston Hughes Family Museum even referred to Venus as, “Langston Hughes in the form of a black girl.
With an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College, she’s a MALI Fellow and serves as a board member for Poetry Center San Jose. This former MTV intern and accomplished actress also opened for Def Poetry on Broadway. Her play “Race and War: An Awkward Conversation” was featured at the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival, and “Poetic Soldier” was awarded “Most Inspiring Solo Performance” at the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival. She is the author of four spoken word albums and two books: “She Rose” and “Lyrics for Langston.” Her favorite quote is by Alice Walker: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
"Bri Blue is an Author, Host, Orator, Spoken Word Performing Artist, Women’s Rights Advocate, and Motivational Speaker hailing from Berkeley, CA. A UC Berkeley alumna, Blue’s passionate and emotionally charged performances allow her to connect with audiences through empathy, relatability and inspiration. Blue has been invited to lend her creative, captivating brand of truth telling to events across the country, including the national stage for Lexus’ broadcast performance show ‘Verses and Flow’. A three time published author, Bri Blue has a digital following of over 20,000, is the Founder and Host of Speak Easy, a widely popular four year’s running weekly Open Mic Showcase in Northern CA, and created the 'Unapologetically You' Awareness Campaign whose mission is to empower, inspire and uplift women who have questioned their value, worth or purpose. Named the Bay Area BMA’s Best Female Spoken Word Artist from 2014-2017, the 2015 Northern CA Entertainers Music Awards' Poet of the Year, the recipient of four 2016 Bay Area Black Music Awards, and the 2017 Cal Poly SLO Black Graduation Keynote Speaker, Blue is a dynamo that cannot be ignored."
"'Be the person you needed when you were younger' is the quote that Erica Nicole lives her life by.
Originally from New York, Erica Nicole is a Houston-based poet and adolescent psychiatric nurse. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a minor in Psychology in 2015, became a Certified Child & Adolescent Trauma Professional in 2017, and is currently pursuing a postgraduate certificate in LGBT Health Policy & Practice. When she’s not working, Erica Nicole is “poeting” (as her teenage patients would say). Initially poetry was just a way for her to work through her own life experiences, but poetry has become a space to raise awareness and promote conversation and healing for others. While addressing an array of topics including mental health and queerness, the majority of Erica Nicole’s work currently centers on sexual and domestic violence. She hopes that by challenging the “what happens in this house, stays in this house” rule, others will have the courage to seek help and speak out.
Erica Nicole is a two-time member of the Houston VIP Slam team which placed 5th in the nation at the 2017 National Poetry Slam. Individually, she has been a finalist in the 2017 Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival, a semi-finalist in the 2016 Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival, and placed 3rd in the 2017 Bayou City Poetry Slam Festival. Performance videos can be found on the Write About Now & The Shout youtube pages. Her work has been published in 310 Brown Street’s Texas Slamthology & Z Publishing House’s Texas's Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology. 310 Brown Street has recently published her first short length book of poetry, To The One Who Loves Her Next."
"Risa is a poet, songwriter, student, and friend known well in the Santa Cruz area. She has lived in this county for all eighteen of her years and is moving to Portland, Oregon three days after her feature, on January 3rd. Risa is on the 2018 Santa Cruz Legendary Team, which took first in both of Southwest Shootout's poetry slam competitions, team and individual. Come get her books, Destruction Gospel (2018) and Something Inside (2017). She has big dreams and great friends."
Our monthly slam has come early to accommodate the holidays! Come join us for a night of competitive art while we all collectively pretend that the concept isn't an oxymoron.
LC's slam committee met this last month and agreed that in order to be fair to the large number of poets signing up for each slam, that beginning this coming Monday we will be randomizing the list. The signup list will be open from 5:30 to 5:50, at which point we'll put all the names into a random number generator and determine both the order and which twelve poets will be competing.
Do remember that we run concurrent workshops before our slam: the writing workshop will continue as usual, and there will be a separate performance workshop held in the conference room.
"Tino V.H. Jr. is a first generation Mexican-American Poet born in Oakland, CA. Raised in an expansive family in Deep East Oakland, Tino turned his energy early in life to activism, which led him to pursue theater and spoken word as instruments to deconstruct hegominic white narratives. He attended UCSC, where he pursued a degree in Literature with a concentration in Spanish and Latin American Literature, which helped further develop his craft. He qualified as a member of UCSC CUPSI team in both 2014 and 2015, and coached the team in 2017. Most recently, he represented the city of Santa Cruz as member of the Legendary Collective at the Southwest Shootout and won. He strives to create spaces where youth are supported and engaged in building their own literacy, and learning the art of storytelling."
"Cierra Green, Bobbi Kindred, Jolinda’s baby, and Storyteller, because there are multiple energetic beings that exist within Them and each must be honored. Storytelling is how they honor the wounds within themself that still gape, and how they invoke the spirit of their ancestors' tongue when they share communally, and they deeply believe in the power of storytelling to heal the inner child. They have just published their first book, "This (Boi)yant Body: Narratives of a Queer Black Boi and the Waters that Carry Them", a collection of poetry and prose."
On slam Mondays, we have two workshops running concurrently at the beginning of the event. There will be a writing workshop held in one room, and a performance workshop held in another.
The list typically fills up very quickly, so aim to arrive before 5:30 if you're wanting a spot.
“Cadence McCracken is fidgety wordsmith coming to you live from somewhere you didn’t expect. Cadence's love for poetry started at 15, when they wanted to write punk songs but did not have a guitar… or friends... to start a band with. Since then, Cadence has made many friends and evolved their back of school bus poetry into roaming poetry party caravans as detailed in their chaotic resume of performing, teaching and organizing spoken word poetry since 2010. Accomplishments and things section of this bio reads: Four-time National Poetry Slam competitor and two-time representative at the Individual World Poetry Slam. Performances and workshops from bookstores to universities in nine states. Published a few times in journals you haven’t heard of, and five self-published chapbooks you will very soon hear of.”
"Aideed Medina, poet and spoken word artist, creates and performs poetry in English, or Spanish, as dictated by the inspiration of each individual piece.
She enjoys mentoring high school students under the direction of the Fresno Poet Laureate, Bryan Medina, with the Poetry Out Loud Program, and for youth slam competitions throughout the California central valley.
She was honored to be the 2017 Representative for the Loud Mouth Poetry Slam of Visalia, CA at the Women of the World Poetry Slam DTX, and recently received the 2017 Fresno Arts Council Horizon Award for her contributions to the city’s artistic and cultural scene in the category of individual artist.
She is currently working on her first two manuscripts, “A California Dime” and “Mis Papelitos”.
Her work has appeared in Fresno State's Club Austral Literary Magazine, Chicano Writers and Artists Association Journal. Online on La Bloga, Poets Responding, Art of the Commune, and as part of a collection of original art songs composed for The Opera Remix, Fresno Grand Opera."
"Brandon Leake is an Award Winning Spoken Word Poet, Artistic Educator, and Motivational Speaker from Stockton, Ca. His creative mixture of art, charisma, and passion, tailored to his own unique personal narrative has taken him across the country as a speaker and performer. Brandon is also an Artistic Educator teaching a workshop series he developed entitled “Dreamerz” which is geared towards using poetry to engage youth while making literacy fun."
It's the last Monday of the month! It's two days away from Halloween!! So please, come join us for our COSTUMED HALLOWEEN SLAM!
Same as usual, but we're breaking the no-costumes rule. In fact, we're giving an extra half a point to all poets competing in costume as an incentive!
So dress up, write loud, and come join us this coming Monday at the Garden Room in the MAH.
“Mighty Mike McGee is a well-traveled funny hobo-poet from San José, California. He is the first and only poet to win both the 2003 National Poetry Slam Grand Championship and the 2006 Individual World Poetry Slam Grand championship. McGee is a co-founder of the live spoken word groups Tons of Fun University (TOFU) with Shane Koyczan and C.R. Avery. He also co-founded The Whirlwind Company with Mindy Nettifee, Brian S. Ellis, and Jon Sands, and the Poetry Revivals with Dan Leamen, Derrick Brown, Buddy Wakefield and Anis Mojgani. He was appointed Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) for 2018 & 2019. McGee’s first collection of humor and poetry, In Search of Midnight, is available through Write Bloody Publishing. He can be found somewhere between Silicon Valley and Vancouver, B.C. as often as possible. Visit mightymikemcgee.com and follow him on Twitter: @mikemcgee”
"The Bird That Killed God is a Santa Cruz poet originally from Los Angeles who is releasing their first publication. Their teacher once said 'Hey, you're a good writer' and they decided to give up on everything else. They often give up on writing, too. That's the gist."