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Say it out loud at the next poetry jam

By Mollie Christianson
On October 11, 2006

What moves you? What motivates you? What touches your spirit and defines you? Poetry and the spoken word are part of our everyday lives; they are a way of centering ideas or expressing emotions. People all around us, people we interact with every day are poets-and the Poetry Jam on Thursday Oct. 12, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. is a place to express that poetry. It is a place those artists can experience a creative release and the audience can enjoy some amazing performances while possibly discovering something creative inside themselves they didn't know existed. The first poetry jam of the school year will be hosted at Rick's Place Coffee Shop. Those attending will experience a wide range of poetry, as well as a wide range of voices. Not only will different forms of poetry be read that focus more on the content of the poem, but also the spoken word in hip hop form, focusing more on expression and emotion will be shown. The jam is all about connections-the performers connecting with other performers and with the audience. Ty Brack, event coordinator and editor-in-chief for the "Northwest Passage", Western's literary and art magazine, said, "For the whole, the audience and the poet, it's a connection thing.  One of the artists may tackle a subject and put it in words that an audience member can relate to and know they always felt that, but could never express it.  Then when they see each other on campus they'll have that connection and spark up a conversation or at least have respect for each other." Poetry jams are an extension of "poetry slams," which are widely publicized, competitive events where poets and artists can perform and be rated by not only an audience, but also judges. Poetry slams originated in Chicago, Ill. in 1984, when a construction worker and poet named Marc Smith began an open poetry reading at a jazz club. He wanted to see expression and freedom begin to take form in the open microphone format. This form focused more on performance and from this the idea of poetry slams was born. In 1986, Smith approached the owner of the Green Mill, another Chicago jazz club, with his plans to host a weekly competition for poets on Sunday nights. The Uptown Poetry Slam had begun. The Green Mill turned into a widely admired place for performance poets and the Uptown Poetry Slam continues to happen every Sunday night. If you are looking to attend or perform at a poetry slam, try the Territorial Winery in Eugene where, the Eugene Poetry Slam happens one Saturday a month at 8 p.m. Visit their website at for more information. . The poetry jam at Rick's Place will be a more laid-back environment for poets. It will not be focused on judging or competition, but instead on being a welcome atmosphere for poets and artists to share their work. There will be numerous poetry jams happening this year-including ones on Oct. 26 and Nov. 16-as well as additional dates during winter and spring terms. The WOU Poetry Jam is a great way for the community of Monmouth, as well as the students of Western Oregon, to connect with each other and the artists and performers around them. "I'm stoked for the Jam...I can't wait to see who shows up and hear what gets read and performed.  We did this twice last spring and it was great both times, but we're really looking to pack Rick's Place, I mean like running out of seats and people having to sit on the floor or in each other's laps," said an enthusiastic Brack. For more information about the poetry jam you can contact Ty Brack at or visit the Northwest Passage's Myspace page at If you are interested or even a little curious, attend the Poetry Jam. The larger the audience, the more supported the artists will feel and the greater the experience will be for everyone. As a final note, Brack added: "It's just a great way to express, relax, laugh, be moved, sip some caffeine and get away for an hour or so from the everyday bullshit of papers, exams, lectures, and wildly long reading assignments. We hope to see you there."

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