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Ozark Slam at OPWC

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By Ginny Masullo

Ozark Poets & Writers Collective will feature their first cousins, the Ozark slam team, Ozark Home Grown Poetry, at their July gathering on Tuesday night.

OHGP is made up of Houston, Thomas French, Jeremy Sparkman, Michelle Miesse and Chris Helms. The team has competed locally, regionally and nationally and at a national competition in Dallas, they placed fourth. OHGP will represent Arkansas at the National Poetry Slam Aug. 3-7 in St. Paul, Minn.

Marc Smith invented slam poetry in Chicago. Slam is the competitive art of performance poetry. By the late ‘80s Slam had spread beyond Chicago to San Francisco, Boston, New York and Ann Arbor. In 1989 the first National Poetry Slam took place in San Francisco. Bob Holman, a poetry activist and former slam master calls the slam movement “the democratization of verse.”

Arkansas slam poets like Lisa Martinovic and the late Brenda Moossy were instrumental in slam poetry’s early growth both locally and nationally. This year’s team stands on the shoulders of those women. Veteran slammers say that OHGP is possibly Ozark’s best slam team yet.

This Tuesday at Nightbird Books, OHGP will entertain and rock the audience with their “team pieces,” which they liken to something like a modern day Greek chorus. As usual beginning at 7 p.m., an open mic will precede and follow the feature.

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