English department to sponsor poetry slam

The Night of El Gato Negro is stealing upon us.

It's a poetry slam, inspired by El Gato Negro, the myth about the black cat which chases away the winter. Appropriately, the poetry slam will be held Saturday, March 20, the official first day of spring. Location is De Koffie Boon on Central Avenue in downtown Orange City. Doors open at 7:15 p.m.; the poetry slam begins at 8.

The slam will be followed by a concert by Bella Ruse of Minneapolis at 10 p.m. The jazz and folk ensemble features Joseph Barker, guitarist, and Kay Gillette, vocalist.

Poetry slams, according to Steve Mahr, began as a way to spice up traditional poetry readings. "It is a judged – but fun – competition," he says, featuring three rounds and five judges. All poems must be original, and under three minutes long.

All poets are encouraged to slam on March 20, but an open mic will also be part of evening. Community members and one surprise judge will score each poem and the poet's presentation. Serious poems should be read with intensity, funny poems in a way that brings laughs, says Mahr. The energy of the reading is possibly more important than the words, says Sarah Kugler. No costumes or props are allowed.

Prizes will be awarded, thanks to the Dutch Bakery, Hands Around the World and the Bike Store.

Poets are invited to register in advance with Mahr, steven.michael.mahr@gmail.com, or Janine Calsbeek of the Orange City Arts Council, ocarts@orangecityiowa.com. Contact Mahr (712-299-5102), Calsbeek (712-707-4885) or Sarah Kugler (712-360-0016) for more information.

Mahr is coordinating the evening; Bob Hubbard will serve as emcee. Sponsors are the Orange City Arts Council and the Northwestern College English department.

The Night of El Gato Negro is a free community poetry event. Come early, stay late. All are invited.