Tonight, the Loft Literary Center presents a selection of spoken-word artists associated with Write Bloody Publishing, an independent publishing house based in Austin, Texas, that has become one the preeminent presses for spoken-word poets. With a lineup that includes Khary Jackson, Sierra DeMulder, and Miles Walser, the evening also features Write Bloody author and special guest Franny Choi, whose book, Floating, Brilliant, Gone, has just been published by the press.
Started by Derrick Brown, who had spent years traveling as a poet throughout the U.S. and Europe, Write Bloody began as a way to tap into the contemporary poetry and spoken-word markets. Framed as an alternative to self-published chapbooks, Write Bloody was able to offer a higher quality press for spoken-word artists and poets whose main marketing tool would be going on tour.
Write Bloody has been building momentum in recent years, and has been able to challenge the notion that spoken word is somehow not as serious as other forms of poetry. "I do feel like there's at least a perception that there's a split between spoken word and what academics would call 'legitimate poetry,'" says Lewis Mundt, the emcee for the showcase. "Write Bloody has been building literary credibility for spoken-word artists. It's the publishing house to go to in order to be taken more seriously."
The Loft Literary Center has been involved with various Write Bloody authors over the years, such as Khary Jackson and Sierra DeMulder, but this is the first time the organization has gathered writers from the press to do a reading. "We're pretty excited," says programming director Bao Phi.
Phi says he got the idea when Franny Choi, one of the Write Bloody authors, who Phi calls "a rising superstar," contacted him to let him know that she had just released a book, and was looking for a reading opportunity. "I was just thinking that some of these authors live in Minnesota, so I was trying to figure out a way to bring them together," he says.
Mundt says audiences can expect a mix of humor and serious poetry, while touching on other issues. For example, Miles Walser, who is trans-identified, deals a lot with identity in his work, and Choi, a well-known spoken-word artist, also touches on issues of identity as an Asian American woman. Sierra DeMulder, who is a recent McKnight Artist Fellow and two-time National Poetry Slam champion, does a lot of work around empowerment, self-respect, and self-love. Meanwhile, Khary Jackson has performed at the Loft previously as part of the Equilibrium series.
Write Bloody Showcase
7 p.m. Wednesday, April 23
The Loft Literary Center
1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
The event is free and open to the public.