The first Day of the Dead Poets Slam was held on November 1st, 2014 at The Creative Salon in Rochester, MN. During the day, families were invited to participate in altar-making, face painting, and crafts related to Day of the Dead. At night, in an environment festooned with Day of the Dead decorations and altars, eight poets competed as their favorite late and great poet, dressing up as the poet and slamming using their poems.
Competing poets included Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Rumi, Kathy Acker, Maya Angelou, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Walt Whitman, and Francisco de Queveo, with Maya Angelou coming in 2nd place, and Walt Whitman emerging as the Dead Poets Slam Champion. Scroll down to see photos from the first event!
After many people from the community shared their excitement about Day of the Dead Poets Slam, Danny and McKay decided to organize the event again. Day of the Dead Poets Slam 2015 was co-presented with Rochester Art Center, presented in RAC’s Grand Lobby. More people were invited to work on the event, creating a Production Team that included original Directors Danny Solis and Mckay Bram, plus Amarama Vernocke, Eleanor Robit, Jeffery Jurewicz, and Crystal Reynolds. This event couldn’t have happened without them!
The Production Team worked hard to create altars for the poets, large window displays, papel picado, and other decorations for the Grand Lobby. A local artist, Karla Giguere, again created an altar she designed especially for the event. Day of the Dead Poets Slam 2015 had 9 competing poets, who performed for an audience of more than 160 people! Poets included Anne Sexton, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Sappho, Octavio Paz, Maggie Estep, Dorothy Parker, Allen Ginsberg, and Adrienne Rich, with Sylvia Plath coming in 2nd, and Langston Hughes emerging as the Day of the Dead Poets Slam 2015 Champion!
In 2016, thanks to a generous grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, Day of the Dead Poets Slam 2016 grew bigger, with four events held over three days, including a Youth Poetry Showcase, a Very Important Pachanga dedicated to Prince, crafting and art-making with kids and families, and of course, the famous Day of the Dead Poets Slam. This event was co-presented by Rochester Art Center, and all events were held in the Grand Lobby of the Rochester Art Center.
Performing in the Poetry Slam was Parvathi Balachandran as Kahlil Gibran, Dr. Sherry-Ann Brown as Maya Angelou, Erin Drummond as Enheduanna, Jennifer Jesseph as Anne Sexton, Dominique Jones as Ogden Nash, Mollie Lacy as Sylvia Plath, Darin Podulke-Smith as Ezra Pound, Alba Villaldama as Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz. The Grand Champion of Day of the Dead Poets Slam 2016 was Dr. Sherry-Ann Brown as Maya Angelou!
To find information about this year’s event, click here.