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Say What? It's a poetry fest

A weeklong event also features art, fashion and more.

Published May 13, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - The third annual presentation of Say What? A Spoken-Word Event kicked off Thursday with the "Cinco De Mayo" afterparty at the Studio@620 at 620 First Ave. S. It was the first of eight nights of spoken-word poetry, live music, art, performances and fashion that will run through Friday.

Say What? is the brainchild of Dave Ellis, artistic director, and the event's host, Pedro Jarquin, a founding member of the Nation of Poetry, a local group of spoken-word poets performing throughout the event.

"He was the guy who introduced Studio@620 to it and he has been our curator for it ever since, " Ellis said.

Each night offers a variety of local artists performing in tandem with everything from music to photography, and even a live performance of rope art. The one constant element will be the spoken word, which will play off the other media.

"It's an art itself, but it's an art that not only wants to, but needs to thrive on other art, " Jarquin said.

The goal of the event is to entertain while educating people about spoken-word poetry and the social issues it often grapples with. The opening night featured Alexis Caputo, a poet and performer who is touring between New York and Florida. Caputo gave a fierce performance, drawing from a number of her larger works, dealing with issues from race and sexuality to censorship.

Other topics ranged from love poems to the ethnic cleansing in Darfur and were performed by poets from around the bay area.

Today's event, Dia de Los Muertos, will be held at Lassing Park in honor of Mother's Day. It will combine a potluck picnic with poetry about moms, who are encouraged to attend.

Upcoming events will feature slam poetry, hosted by Lizz Straight of WMNF radio, the high energy showdown where opposing teams of poets compete for judges randomly selected from the audience. Ellis said the slam has been responsible for much of the renewed interest in poetry by younger generations.

The events will span the arts, including a fashion show featuring local designer Ivanka Ska and other blossoming designers from the area. Admission is between $5 and $10 for all dates, running through Friday, with a final battle between the Charlotte, N.C., and Tampa Bay area slam teams.

Nick Johnson can be reached at or 893-8361.


Get informed online

For price information and a complete schedule of events visit

[Last modified May 12, 2007, 19:16:02]

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