Spoken word and slam poetry — the competitive art of performance poetry — are having a moment, ever since the Grammy Awards decided to recognize “spoken word poets” in 2023. The community of spoken word and slam poets are excited to show off their art form.
In Miami, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts will host ARTiculation at Arsht: Summer Slam Edition on Saturday, Aug. 20. Its first free slam poetry competition is giving local poets and slam teams a chance to compete for a $1,000 grand prize.
Second place winners can take home a $500 prize and $250 will be awarded to the third prize winner.
Featuring original pieces performed by poets from across Miami-Dade County, competing poets will be judged by members of the audience and local poets including Octavia Yearwood and Darius Daughtry.
“We’re bringing back joy to the community,” says Jairo Ontiveros, vice president of Arts Education at the Arsht Center. “While poetry is not typically thought of in a performing arts center, we’re happy to provide a platform to poetry and the poets in our midst.”
“It’s a way to heighten and elevate the profile of the art form in our community,” he says.
A portion of the evening is devoted to a segment curated by Miami artist and art educator Deborah Magdalena and spoken word poet Just John, 25, (John Persaud). His tagline is “Advocate for Love.”
“I’m inspired and motivated by the women around me,” he says. “I want to tell my story and resonate with someone else.”
Just John is also one of eight poets who created poetry videos titled, “Avenues of Art Miami,” highlighting the different communities n the city. His poem and video feature Downtown Miami.
Created by spoken word artists, the videos are a poetic homage to various Miami neighborhoods, including Little Haiti (Marnino Toussaint), Homestead (NelzGetLive), Liberty City (Calvin “madeS.O.N.” Early), South Beach (Ciara Hendrix), the Everglades (Sherrika Mitchell), Kendall (Gaby Martinez) and Miami Gardens (Conscious Sheesh).
“A Jazz of Southern Palm Trees Dancing in our Cultural Hue,” is how poet Conscious Sheesh describes her city of Miami Gardens.
“We’re bringing joy through spoken word and performance,” says Magdalena. “The slam marries what we do in the performing arts with text. That uniqueness is rich and impactful for an audience.”
“Their stories are a reflection of us all,” she says.
Devon Modia, 15, known as "MODIA," is one of the evening’s spoken word artists.
Born and raised in Broward and Miami Dade counties, he has been performing since the age of 12. A sophomore at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Miami, where his mother, also a poet, teaches English, Modia says he was raised with poetry.
“I try to make every piece positive,” he says. “It may start out sad, but ends on a note of positivity.”
Inspired by writer, poet and Def Poetry Jam performer, Asia Samson, (“Pink Crayons”) Modia hopes to stay focused on his writing and produce rap music, his other passion.
His goal, he says, “Is to make a change in the world and make people happy.”
He has previously won first place in a poetry competition and if he wins this grand prize, he hopes to spend it on a good microphone to use for his music.
Another performer, Amorette “Epiphany" Lormil, 25, began writing at the age of 11 and says, “I have not been able to stop since.” She took the stage name “Epiphany” from an album of the same name by rapper by T-Pain.
“That’s me,” she says. “I’m very curious and ask questions and always have an epiphany,” she says.
“Love life and the Black experience,” is her tag line. “Love, and the pain that comes with it,” she says.
She recently published her first book of poetry titled, “Muppy,” dedicated to her growth and experience in Broward County,
She’s looking forward to performing at the Arsht Center and thanks them for the opportunity. “I’m very excited to be around other poets and have the opportunity to meet new poets.”
Lormil was inspired by Miami poet Bertrand E. Boyd when she saw him perform at an event.
“He sounded like home,” she says. “The color of his voice, the words he uses and his cadence are so familiar, but he has an original take on life. I am fascinated every time I hear him.”
She says she can listen to the same poem 15 times and hear something new in it each time.
The ARTiculation Poetry Slam will be hosted by Ingrid “IngridB” Bazin and features music by SheJ Hercules from 99 JAMZ. Performing between the competition are poets Arsimmer McCoy, Marnino and Elaina Whorley.
As Magdalena says, “It’s a night of inspiration through the magic of word and performance. There is a raw emotion to the poetry that will inspire you.”
“In a moment where we may not be in the place we want in our world, where can you find joy,? she asks rhetorically. “Art and poetry provide both.”
The evening is free and open to the public.
ARTiculation is Saturday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Peacock Foundation Studio. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is located at 1300 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132. Tel: (305) 949-6722. For more information visit: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County - Adrienne Arsht Center | ARTiculation at Arsht
Check the website for the availability of first access passes. First-access passes expire 15 minutes prior to the performance. First-access passes must be obtained for every member of party regardless of age. There is a limit of 4 passes per household. Guests will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis as seats become available.