Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Word Up

Madison’s a lucky city, particularly when it comes to the amount and quality of arts events taking place here throughout the year.

And we can add another great event—for this year and the next, at least—to our roster. The National Poetry Slam hits Madison August 3–9 with a bevy of activities celebrating spoken word and performance poetry.

It’s a big deal that Madison is hosting NPS, also known this year as the Lyrics on the Lake Festival. It’s bringing seventy-six teams that will compete in slam “bouts” at venues across town and plenty of other writers and poets who will take advantage of the myriad workshops and classes offered during the days of the festival.

Those uninitiated with slam poetry will find a powerful introduction next week. Preliminary bouts will take place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at MMoCA, the Brink Lounge, the Drury and Evejue theaters at the Bartell, the Majestic, the Comedy Club and the Orpheum. Each team, with four or five poets apiece, will have four opportunities to perform and score points, which are given by a panel of five judges selected randomly from the audience. Teams perform two of the three nights. Check the complete bout schedule online.

At the end of the preliminary bouts, the twenty-five highest-scoring teams will advance to Friday’s semifinals. The top four teams from that night will go on to the finals on Saturday at Overture Center.

Workshops and classes will take place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at UW’s Humanities building. And after the preliminary bouts those three days, the Bartell’s Drury Theater, CafĂ© Montmartre, Genna’s and the Mercury Lounge will host late-night events.

Anyone wanting a sneak peak of what they may encounter at NPS should check out the For the Record segment from this past Sunday. Neil Heinen sat down with David Hart, operations director for NPS, Evy Gildrie-Voyles, events director for the Madison Slam Team, and Danez J. Smith, a member of the Madison Slam Team.

Gildrie-Voyles and Smith’s performances at the end of the half hour are sure to make anyone rethink Big Bird and bling—and want to check out as many events as possible next week.

For more information on Lyrics on the Lake, visit

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