Have you ever wanted to see Sylvia Plath compete with Anne Sexton for cash prizes? What about noshing down a sugar skull while witnessing Ezra Pound belt out a poem with Maya Angelou in the background?
Well, at the third annual Day of the Dead Poets Slam, you’ll get your chance.
The event, put on by the Rochester Art Ensemble, marries a poetry slam with Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrations. Performers arrive in character as poets of years past and compete in head to head performance contests which yield cash, prizes, and eternal glory. These are no ordinary poetry recitations. Props, costumes, and dramatic flair are heavily encouraged, so expect to see explosive renditions of old favorites.
This year’s ensemble includes Parvathi Balachandran as Kahlil Gibran, Dr. Sherry-Ann Brown as Maya Angelou, Erin Drummond as Enheduanna, Jennifer Jesseph as Anne Sexton, Dominique Jones as Ogden Nash, Mollie Lacy as Sylvia Plath, Darin Podukle-Smith as Ezra Pound, and Alba Villaldama as Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz.
If you didn’t see your favorite deceased poet in that list, fear not. Audience members are encouraged to come dressed as their own favorite deceased poet – so you may find me lurking about in a Gertrude Stein get-up.
The poets are hardly the only dramatic element of this event, though. The audience is also encouraged to support poems they love with cheers. Should a judge’s decision go against their opinion, audience members are invited to vocalize their discontent with jeers. Since calavera style make up is also encouraged for attendees, those jeers should be the stuff of nightmares. A make-up artists will be on hand to help make sure.
The venue’s decorations draw heavily from traditional Mexican accoutrements like altars, sugar skulls, and papel picado.
Prior to the slam, at 6:40 p.m., a performance by Aztec dancers Mexica Yololt and Mexica Lolotlzin will help set the tone for the evening.
To help keep the event going, t-shirts and other merchandise will be available for purchase. Snacks are free, while Powers Catering will provide a cash bar for those 21 and older.
This event is part of a larger series, which includes “My Story, My Voice,” a youth poetry showcase on November 3, “VIP” Very Important Pachanga on November 4, and Free Family Day on November 5.