The ninth annual Kinetic Poetics Spoken Word Festival will take place at UC Santa Cruz next week, from Sunday, Jan. 29 to Wednesday, Feb. 1. The event, which features students performing slam poetry pieces that highlight themes of identity and other personal subjects, has been gaining a lot of popularity since the festival first started.
During each night of the four-night festival, audience members are asked to rate the performers on a one to 10 scale. The five best-scored performers will then go on to compete in the National Collegiate Slam Poetry Invitational, which will be held in Long Beach later this year. UCSC garnered a strong reputation in the world of slam poetry UCSC students placed second in the national competition two years ago.
One of the organizers of the event, Jeremy Kirshbaum, sat down with GT to talk about the festival and what can be expected from performers this year.
“This is a great venue for students to freely express themselves in a way that they are unable to in any other setting,” he says. “It’s a site for repressed identities to break out, and be heard.”
As an organizer, Kirshbaum is excited for the fresh faces in this year’s competition. Some of these students are coached by former UCSC slam poetry performers, inculding Kevin Holmes and Storm Thomas, who have gone on to compete at numerous national slam poetry events.
Kirshbaum believes that Santa Cruz has a strong slam poetry scene because there is an openness in the community that isn’t found in other places. “People are hungry for alternative experiences here and the festival is a great place for people to break out of mainstream mentalities,” he says.
Kirshbaum describes being up onstage as a warm and comfortable experience. “People are willing to listen, and as a performer, you are encouraged to experiment with different types of movement and speech,” he explains. “What makes slam poetry so special is the potential for unique identities to come through.”
The Kinetic Poetics Festival will be held Sunday, Jan. 29 through Wednesday, Feb. 1 at UCSC’s Porter College from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m.