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On Saturday, October 5th, the 11th annual Heavyword Poetry Slam returned to Central PA. This year, the iconic contest of poetic performance was held at Coakley’s Bar and Grill in New Cumberland. The prize fight was hosted by the witty and charming Poet Laureate of York, Carla Christopher. The judges represented multiple corners of Central PA’s poetry community:  From York, Soul Cry, author of Passing Bi, from Harrisburg: Marty Esworthy, founder of Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel and author, Julia Tilley, from Lancaster, G. I., host of Poetic Soul, and representing the “West Shore,” myself, Maria James-Thiaw.

 The winners also represented different corners of the poetry community. Tiger Rose’s powerful voice and thought provoking words took the top prize. In addition, he won the People’s Choice award. Meaning that Tiger was voted the winner not only by the judges but by the audience as well. It seems to prove that Harrisburg is starved for a poet laureate that is not only powerful, but present, able to represent the city in a favorable light, even though the hour seems dark. Tiger inspired the crowd with a call and response poem that, as our host proclaimed, took the crowd “to church.” He also questioned the actions of a neglectful  single mother, speaking for the voiceless young black boys that aren’t allowed to speak out. Tiger’s performance moved and entertained the crowd. He is a true performer at heart.

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But that’s not all. Other poets set the mic on fire with their wordplay. Dustin Nispel is a new favorite of mine. His was the first  “10” I handed out for the night. This sexy thing is a prolific artist, not only writing poetry, but music as well. In addition, he sells artistic renditions of his framed hand written work. I am definite those things will be worth hundreds of dollars or more one day.

One big surprise for the night was a young sister that I had met when she was sportin’ baby locs as a high school student in the Burg. Ylynne, (pronounced Island) is freaking amazing. Her voice, her wordplay, her presence and the power of her convictions come together as one to knock the listener off of their feet.

And those were just a few of the amazing voices. Christine Oleary Rockey, Michael, Quoteman and others were just so incredible. I was honored to work with Randy and Lauren Gross to help coordinate this event.

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