UpZones #9: Seattle Spoken Word

Episode 09: Three of Seattle’s most relevant and interesting spoken word poets sit with Ian to discuss life, the universe, and when to just give up and call an Uber. The legendary Imani Sims details a tumultuous spiritual journey that is still only just taking shape. Reigning Grand Slam Champion Ben Yisrael compares Fort Worth, TX to Seattle, and explains why he thinks slam poetry is leaving something on the table as an art form. Phenom Chelsey Brown explains how she balances motherhood, art, and youth advocacy on no sleep.

About the Poets:

Imani Sims spun her first performance poem at the age of fourteen. She has gone on to teach performance poetry to youth and adults, publish her first collection of poetry entitled, Twisted Oak, on Requiem Press, and founded an interdisciplinary arts production company, Split Six Productions. Her latest book of poetry, (A)live Heart, was published in October 2016 by Sibling Rivalry Press.

Check out Imani’s Upcoming curated art experiment Kitchen Sessions at the Seattle Art Museum’s Brothman Forum.  Imani was recently co-creator of Black Imagination, which ran this winter at Core Gallery to nearly universal critical praise.  


Ben Yisrael is a poet, music apostle, and art evangelist. He is a multi-time National Poetry Slam finalist, the 2010 Dallas Poetry Grind Slam Champion, the 2014 PSI National Haiku Champion, the 2017 Seattle Poetry Slam Champ, and co-founder of Mic Check, a Texas-based poetry nonprofit. He loves you the way Kanye loves Kanye.

He is the featured poet at this year’s annual haiku deathmatch championship at Rain City Poetry Slam.


Chelsey Brown, a Washington native, stepped out of Bellingham and into the spoken word poetry last year and made a splash as a finalist for Rain City’s national team.  This year she’s back in action as a finalist for Rain City’s Grand Slam Championship on April 25th.  Chelsey is also a crisis counselor with YouthCare, which serves homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 24 in the Seattle area.


Episodes of Upzones Air Every Monday. See all episodes here.


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