Q. When is a Jam a Slam?

A. When it’s the first ever Poetry/Story Slam with prizes from the Saint Paul Almanac and the last Lowertown Reading Jam of the second year of the series.

Diego Vázquez Jr., the founder of SlamMN

JUNE 21, 2011. SAINT PAUL, MN – Diego Vázquez Jr., the founder of SlamMN, will host a slam competition for the first time in ten years on Monday, July 11, 2011 as the final Lowertown Reading Jam of the 2010–2011 season. Join friends and fans of the Saint Paul Almanac from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street (across the street from the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market), and slam in any genre with Poetry Slam rules (3-minute limit per round).

Open to the first 15 slammers to sign up at the door (sign-up sheet opens at 7:00 p.m.). First Prize $150; Second Prize $75; Third Prize $50; and of course – all slammers receive applause and recognition! Five judges will be randomly selected from the audience.

Diego Vázquez Jr., slam-master and founder of the first and longest running Poetry Slam in Minnesota, will host a slam for the first time in more than ten years. It all started at Kieran’s Irish Pub back in 1995, and eventually, Diego led two Minnesota poetry slam teams to compete at the National Poetry Slam. In 1998 the team, comprising poets Loren Niemi, Bao Phi, Patrick McKinnon, Kate Peterson, and Diego Vázquez, competed in Austin, Texas. The following year they competed in Chicago, IL. Vazquez left the poetry slam scene in 2000 after securing Minneapolis as the site for the 2002 National Poetry Slam. He has been a visiting Writer in the Schools for many years. His novels include Growing through the Ugly and Border Town Sky. A community editor for the Saint Paul Almanac since 2008, he is constantly searching for new stories to publish. He is proud to have his poetry permanently cemented into the pavement as part of Saint Paul’s Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk.

A Slam for the Almanac of it…

Deborah Torraine

The July 11 Slam will be in honor of Deborah Torraine, recently the Community Engagement Director for the Saint Paul Almanac who died tragically and unexpectedly on June 10.

The Almanac has been hosting the monthly Lowertown Reading Jams since October 2009 to excited audiences who spread the word about their powerful, shared experiences. The Jams provide an opportunity to explore and bridge the cultural and social breadth of the city of Saint Paul throughout the year. Each Jam is produced and hosted by a well-known writer or spoken word artist. Saint Paul “performance drawing” artist Lara Hanson interprets the readings using Japanese ink brushes. All Reading Jams are American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted.

The entire 2010–2011 season of Lowertown Reading Jams has been presented at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, a popular Saint Paul venue for spoken word artists, and a co-sponsor of the series. This year the Jams have been curated by the following creative writers and agents for social change: Deborah Torraine, Tish Jones, Matthew Rucker, May Lee-Yang, Tou SaiKo Lee, Carol Connolly, Marcie Rendon, Desdamona, Melvin Giles, and Diego Vázquez, Jr.

About the Saint Paul Almanac

Now in its fifth edition, the Saint Paul Almanac features essays, poems, photos, maps, and listings of events, bars, restaurant, theaters, and other cultural venues within a datebook format. The 2011 Almanac features 129 works by 118 writers. These writers include literary giants, everyday residents, students, journalists, new Americans, and lovers of Saint Paul who live in other corners of the world. Information on upcoming events, how to make a submission, and other Saint Paul Almanac news is available at www.saintpaulalmanac.org

The 2011 Saint Paul Almanac sells for $11.95 online at www.saintpaulalmanac.org, and is available in independent and mainstream bookstores everywhere, as well as at libraries and coffee houses throughout the city.

Saint Paul Almanac activities are made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council from an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature. Sponsors and partner organizations include the Black Dog Café and Wine Bar, the City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul STAR Program, Clouds in Water Zen Center, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, KFAI Radio, The Lowertown Future Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation, The Saint Paul Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), Travelers Arts & Diversity Grant, and Twin Cities Daily Planet.

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