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Spoken Word Spartanburg competes in Southern Fried Poetry Festival

Poetry joined Moonpies and RC Cola as a hallmark of Southern culture during the annual Southern Fried Poetry Festival, a week-long event open to regional and national poets who compete through slam, or competitive performance poetry. Members of Spoken Word Spartanburg, an arts and activism organization, added their voices to the mix this year, competing in the 23-year-old festival June 2-7 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Marlanda “Sapient Soul” Dekine, Lindsey “Lyla Flower” Stevens, Marcus “Black Phoenix” Turner, Rashad “BlaQ Socrates” Gault, and Derrick “Southern Stylez” Commander represented Spoken Word Spartanburg, performing as individuals and as members of Old Soul, Spartanburg’s slam poetry team. Black Phoenix ranked in the top 12 of more than 200 poets and won first place in one of the side tournaments, the Haiku Slam. Old Soul also had two poems that received perfect scores during the competition. “It’s awesome to be able to represent Spartanburg on a national level, but even more exciting that [Turner] returned home as the Southern Fried Haiku Champion,” said Dekine, director of Spoken Word Spartanburg. “We believe that spoken word poetry is an art form with a healing mechanism. We don’t just write and perform; we change lives with what we do. This is for everybody. It’s an honor to bring our experiences back to our own community.” Dekine hopes to bring much more than personal experience and new relationships with other poetry groups back home. She plans to place a bid to bring Southern Fried Poetry Festival to Spartanburg. Spoken Word Spartanburg is a nonprofit that nurtures the art of spoken word through workshops, performance, community dialogue, and activism. Events include a writing workshop on the second of each month at Chapman Cultural Center, a conversation on race and racism that incorporates the arts on the first Monday of each month at First Presbyterian Church, and an open mic on the first and third Thursday of each month at Klymaxx Lounge. “Everything we do is building activism and bringing awareness to the art form,” Dekine said. “It connects people.” Southern Fried Poetry Festival is the second largest poetry event in the world, serving as an educational opportunity, a showcase of talent, and a tribute to “the creative genius of the South as a spiritual home for artists." This program is supported in part by The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, its donors, the County and City of Spartanburg and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. Via: Spoken Word Spartanburg