Carbondale's community connector

Poetry fits under the umbrella

Locations: News Published

Maybe you’re a poet — and you do know it. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at slam poetry, Friday might be your night.

Alya’s Umbrella, Aspen Words and The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW) have collaborated to bring award-winning John “Meta” Sarmiento to the Temporary at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 for the first-ever poetry slam at the venue.Tickets are $8 in advance at and $11 at the door.

  • TMP thumbnail

Four First Word students will be competing, as are six local adult wordsmiths. Alya Howe, who is coordinating the event, has kept five slots open for anyone wanting to participate.

“Everyone’s name gets put into a hat, and then the names get pulled out,” Howe said of the Friday’s selection process, noting the traditional first-come, first-served traditional signups at slams across the country.

  • TOC Sewer thumbnail

Contestants will perform their original works in front of five judges, who will rank each poet on a scale between one and 10. The middle three scores will be added together to create a competitor’s final score, and the highest score wins the night.

That scaled score isn’t limited to whole numbers, so competition may be stiff, Howe said. Someone could get an 8.3, for instance. And the unofficial judges, of course, will be in the audience. Noisy audience participation is encouraged. “It’s going to be goofy and cool,” she said.

  • C.A.R.E. thumbnail

Sarmiento, the visiting host of the evening’s slam, is a Denver-based writer originally from Guam. He discovered slam poetry in 2007 on his home island and fell in love with the culture. Since then, he’s added National Poetry Slam semifinalist, TedX speaker, Spoken Word for the World 2015 winner and author to his resume. “Oh, and he’s a rapper,” Howe added.

Poetry slams rate enthusiasm and passion just as highly as technical language ability, and Friday will be no exception. If you’re feeling inspired, you can sign up at the Temporary on Friday between 5:30 and 6:15 p.m.

  • Job Opening thumbnail

For the younger aspiring poet, Sarmiento is also hosting “Super Hero Poetry,” part of TACAW’s Kids Kulture! workshop series at 4 p.m. before the slam.