Slam Poetry Speaks Truth to Power in Seattle

Seattle’s Rain City Poetry Slam has the antidote to frustration with the system, and it’s loud, proud, and resilient. On April 19th at Hale’s Ales Palladium, nine of Seattle’s best poets will face off in the Grand Slam Championship, a no-holds-barred literary showdown to see who will represent Seattle at the 2017 National Poetry Slam.

A group of five judges will decide which of the nine competitors will go on to represent Seattle at the National Poetry Slam in Denver, CO.

Established in 2013, Rain City Poetry Slam is an all-ages event committed to providing safety, community, and a microphone to all people, especially those who don’t get a voice in the mainstream arts world.

These poets speak for themselves like no one can, but they speak for the rest us, too—the quiet, the anxious, the marginalized, the afraid,” says Ian Martinez, one of Rain City’s head organizers and last year’s Grand Slam Champion. “They tell stories those with privilege might not want to hear, but that everyone needs to.

Rain City’s using the high-octane appeal of the Grand Slam to fundraise not only for nationals, but to serve the broader Seattle community. Earlier this year, Rain City launched a teaching fellowship program in partnership with Renton Academy, working with youth to develop their powers of self-expression. Rain City’s second fellowship program, underway now, focuses on bringing the activism and art of spoken word poetry to students of color at Cornish College of the Arts. These programs serve as small steps to address the generational imbalance of access in marginalized communities.

“When Rain City was a brand new thing, and we were trying to figure out what our longterm goal was, it was this,” says Maya Hersh, one of the slam’s co-founders and current head organizers.

The April 19th Grand Slam is headlined by Paul Tran, a Pushcart Prize-nominated Vietnamese American poet whose work explores themes of identity, intergenerational trauma, and sexual violence. “Slam is persuasion. Like great art and activism, the best poems change minds; they give us a new way to think, to live and love each other,” Tran says. “They help us decolonize. That’s why I do this. That’s why the revolution needs poets.”

The event begins at 7pm, with tickets available online or at the door.

Rain City Slam happens every Wednesday @ 8pm, Jai Thai on Capitol Hill, 235 Broadway East, Seattle!