By Edith Yang
The Kinetics Poetics Project, an annual spoken word festival at UC Santa Cruz, will take place Feb. 3 through 7 in the Porter dining hall. There will be six featured artists performing at the festival this year, as well as a workshop and open mic on the last day.
Jack Rusk, co-producer of Kinetics Poetics, anticipates that the event will serve as a platform for previously uninvolved people to become inspired to write or participate in spoken word.
“We’re having an open mic, which is our way of turning the tables and asking people, ‘We brought this to you—now what do you have to say?’” he said.
One-on-one workshops with featured artists will be held on the last day of the festival.
Rusk, who will be coordinating the workshops, hopes that they will help to spread his love for spoken word to the UCSC community, especially the students.
“It’s something that’s really important to people, especially those in college, who are usually in anonymous, 350-persons classrooms,” Rusk said. “People listen to you [here]. It is a powerful experience that’s available to people here [at UCSC].”
Sarah Yolon, resident graphic designer for Kinetics Poetics, also wants the event to give hushed voices in the UCSC community a chance to be heard via slam poetry.
She hopes that the impressive line-up of guest artists, including Anis Mojgani, Mike McGee, Ammo, Katie Wirsing, Andrea Gibson and Saul Williams, will
attract and inspire more students this year.
“Saul Williams recently put out an album with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, so we expect to bring a bigger audience,” Yolon said. “He also has a very unique voice. He’s someone who’s not just known in the slam poetry scene but is also known in the hip-hop scene.”
Mike McGee, poet-performer among the festival’s featured artists, said that in the past students have always been able to take something away from his art.
“A lot of [my poems] come from a place of youth and growing out of that youth,” McGee said. “I think they end up connecting with me like they know me, which has always been my goal.”
In hopes of reaching a more diverse group of people in the UCSC and Bay Area communities, the Kinetics team made efforts this year to bring in more female artists.
“Hearing other people tell your story, or things that people can relate to, is a really powerful experience,” Rusk said. “You can relate to [female artists] in different ways.”
While Yolon agreed that slam poetry is partially about relating to others, she stressed that the art is largely about individual—albeit collectively supported—expression.
“A lot people say, ‘Slam poetry saved my life,’” Yolon said. “It’s an opportunity to exist and to express yourself as a survivor. It’s an opportunity to express yourself as an individual in a world where you might feel overwhelmed sometimes.”