May 12, 2006

Poetry and Art Series: Slam, Graffiti, and Reg E Gaines

Poetry written for performance — not to be read rheumatically in quiet rooms but to be put in motion through body and voice — is one of the chief literary movements of our day.

Performance poets tour the nation’s bookstores, coffeehouses and theaters. Slam contest poets compete at the local and national level, against the crème de la crème in every city from San Diego to New York, for large cash prizes and publishing rights.

Southern California alone has over 200 verbal art venues, many of them coffeehouses. Writers/performers in San Diego can choose from weekly, bi-weekly and monthly gatherings and shows in cafés, libraries, and performance art spaces to try out new pieces.

The Poetry and Art Series (established in the summer of 2001) in the Museum of the Living Artist is both a unique show and a unique venue. Four times a year poets and audiences gather amongst the paintings and installations in a program that cultivates collaboration between the spoken word and the visual arts communities.

The investigation of mixing words with images is not only an artistic expression, but also of growing importance in graphic design and everyday life (e.g., websites, advertising). Our cultural identity and awareness is increasingly established by the fusion of words and images.

The Poetry and Art Series naturally partners multicultural and multidisciplinary verbal and visual creative groups under one roof: the 10,000 square foot gallery space of the Museum of the Living Artist.

Each of the four Poetry and Art events features special-guest performers who are also actively interested in this hybrid cross-pollination. Previous features have included world champion slam poet Pat Payne and her original “urban angst” artwork, dance troupe Xdrop, filmmaker and UCSD professor Giovanna Chesler, professor and actor Fred Moramarco’s poetry in dialogue with paintings, and anarchist Cecil Hayduke’s anti-poetry.

Using the open mic format, local poets and artists, at varying levels of artistic development, also present their work. The featured performers set a stage of inspiration and mentorship for the up-and-coming open mikers.

The next installment of the Poetry and Art Series on Wed-nesday, May 17, will feature poet Reg E Gaines, artwork by Visual Graffiti, the best of the San Diego Poetry Slam, and YOU on the open mic.

Reg E Gaines has appeared on the Arsenio Hall Show, the Jon Stewart Show, HBO’s Def Poetry and MTV Spoken Word Unplugged. Reg E Gain-es is not only a poet, but also an author, musician, playwright and director. His CD “Please Don’t Take My Air Jordans” was released by Mercury Records. He is a two-time Tony Award nominee, Gram-my nominee and Bessie Award winner for Best Book/Lyrics, “Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk.”

The San Diego poetry slammers, culturally and stylistically diverse, will stage a mock slam, battling it out in metaphors and rhythms between the paintings. The poets include Viet Mai, Brian De Benedictus, Sunflower Dubois, Serious Wit, and Rudy Francisco.

The Visual Graffiti collective is an eclectic mix of fashion, art and music, the brainchild of 1/8 Fresh Clothing designer and owner Ginger Placek.

There will be food and music throughout. Bring your verses and your images to share or simply come and enjoy the performances and the artwork. The Poetry and Art Series is a free speech event. The show starts at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, May 17. For more information, contact Michael Klam at 619-756-6164 or call the museum directly at 619-236-0011. Email: Visit: and

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