As part of our ongoing “On Stage” series, we turn today to the world of poetry slam, or competitive poetry, which has a growing following around the country.
Mahogany Browne, Amy Leon and Katherine George, three members of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe team, join Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss the genre, as well as what it’s like to be competing as an all-women’s team on the national stage.
According to Browne, this is the first time an all-female team has represented the tri-state region at the National Poetry Slam.
“I never thought I’d be here to see it,” Browne said. “A lot of my work and my platform as a poet is about women empowerment and mentoring. I’m really excited to be able to work with these four performers.”
She added that while women are an integral part of the slam poetry community, often as producers, curators, and performance attendees, they don’t often end up in the spotlight.
But this team has become known for their skill and for exploring under-discussed topics, such as the difficulties of women in the military in their poem “Like a Girl.”
“Whenever we slam, there’s always a great amount of energy that gets put into the pieces, into the work,” Katherine George said. “To receive the energy back from the audience is a blessing.”
Her teammates agreed.
“It’s just extremely cathartic,” Amy Leon explained. “There’s nothing better than going on there and knowing that you’ve done your best and that the audience is gonna take your words and they’re gonna have their own experience.”
The 25th annual National Poetry Slam takes place next week in Oakland, California.
- Mahogany Browne, poet and editor of the women’s anthology “His Rib: Stories, Poems & Essays by Her” and author of several books, including her latest book of poems: “Swag.” She tweets @mobrowne.
- Amy Leon, poet and artist studying theater at NYU. She tweets @amydelilahleon.
- Katherine George, poet, singer and actress in New York City.