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Although it may be a little segregated or fragmented, Louisville has a pretty strong spoken word and poetry scene which is surprising to most people. It may be a little more known that we are home to one of the few remaining beat poets Ron Whitehead) or a national touring and award winning slam poet (Truth B. Told), but Louisville is also home to an array of talented poets and poetry events of varying styles.  In an effort to bring the different segments together a little, I've compiled a list of events, groups and poets worth taking note of. (The list of notable poets is definitely not a complete one, but consists of the poets that I have the most contact with).

 

The poetry event 100,000 Poets for Change was recently hosted in Louisville, Ky and allowed Louisville to be a part of an event happening simultaneously all over the planet. In addition to annual events I've hosted in the past like Poets, Prophets and Punks or Poetry, Pop, and Paint, there is also an annual slam poetry event hosted by 30Something Entertainment. 

 

30Something Entertainment is a poetic force in our community, hosting monthly upscale poetry related events at Jazzy Blu Cafe that often incorporate jazz music. They enforce a strict dress code and serve up awesome talent with an open mic format to a busy and mature audience. They sometimes host CD releases at their events.  Cover is usually $10. Poets I've met at 30Something Entertainment events include Truth B. Told and Madison West amongst others. 

 

Madison West began writing at a young age but did not take poetry seriously until 2008. Since then she has released an album titled "Wannabe" and now tours with a group of poets called The Movement

 

The Word Spoken occurs the second Tuesday of each month (although it may switch to Wednesdays) at Derby City Expresso on Market St at 8 p.m. It is an open mic event and features spoken word of many styles from slam to freestyle to readings. They have a pretty steady attendance of about 30 people. The event is hosted by Touch Armor Class, a spoken word and hip-hop artist. 

 

Touch Armor Class has a style I call Hip Hop apocalyptic and has been performing poetry live  since 2009, when he was asked to read at Sub Rosa: The Gypsie Courtyard. He started writing rhymes in 8th grade that were of a sillier nature but began  taking poetry a ittle more seriously in 2006. He's performed in several Louisville venues, in Paducah and Huntsville, Alabama. In addition to working on recording his own solo project, he is currently in a group called Girl Next Door  with N Fact and Sloe Pink. 

 

"I rotate focusing on poetry for music and poetry without music," he said. 

Jimmy Besseck - Jimmy is a talented wordsmith whose style is that of an amused urban observer and began writing poetry after attending Sub Rosa: The Gypsie Courtyard, where he also began performing publicly. His poems are observations of his surroundings and usually have a humorous slant. He  has gone on to host his own events around town and released a book titled The Lead Standard in 2011, which is available at Carmichael's bookstore. He also runs a Facebook group known as Louisville Writers' Solidarity.

Mark James is a spoken word artist, writer, and photographer who says writing came very naturally for him. He began writing a few years ago as a response to boredom and began performing at Sub Rosa: the Gypsie Courtyard. Anne Lamont's Bird by Bird inspired him to write daily in June of 2010 and he has since written his first book (self published) and traveled across the country performing.  He is currently focused on creating his next stage show while learning to paint with light, create installation art and make videos to elevate his abilities of self expression. His visual artwork is currently on display at Chez Moi gallery on Winkler Ave, BBC on Fourth St, and at Serendipity Cafe in La Grange. 

 

T-shirts with some of Mark James' Poetry

T-shirts with some of Mark Jame's poetry on them.

 

Maplex Monk is a poet with a hip hop flavor who also plays a variety of musical instruments. In addition to writing across several formats, he has been producing "The Creative Community with Maplex Monk" podcast for a few months from his home studio, which is equipped with an array of instruments and equipment.He is currently looking forward to creating a music video for one of his pieces titled "Spiral Staircase". In addition to an 

array of musicians and East Coast hip hop artists, his biggest inspiration comes from family.

 

"My mother is an English teacher, and my father is a social worker and a singer/song writer/guitarist/harmonica ninja, so there's no mistaking that their influence has inspired me more than any other."    

 

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About Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has been writing for Louisville.com since fall of 2010 and has also been published in LEO, Velocity, Voice-Tribune and others after serving as Editor in Chief of The JCC student newspaper, The Quadrangle. She has also served as columnist or contributing writer to an array of online publications.

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