Youth literary genius on display twice this week in Ann Arbor
I am always boasting about Ann Arbor's youth literary culture. This week provides two fantastic opportunities for people to experience it firsthand. Two very different events are happening in which local teen writers will take turns before a microphone and, one after another, speak the most extraordinary things.
Tonight -- Thursday, March 25 -- the spectacular Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Slam Finals will take place starting at 7 p.m. at the Neutral Zone (310 E. Washington St.). If you haven't been to a poetry slam, it is a competitive event. In round one, each poet will perform one original poem, and each performance will be scored by a panel of judges. The top-scoring dozen or so poets from round one will perform a second poem, with the six highest-scoring poets after round two forming a team that will compete at the Brave New Voices 2010 International Youth Poetry Slam in Los Angeles this July.
What you must understand is that the quality of competition at the Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Slam is, in some respects, higher than the quality of competition at the International Youth Poetry Slam. Only six poets can make the team, which means many more incredible poets will not. But they will all drop your jaw, over and over. If there is ever an event that you don't want to miss, this is it.
The cost is $5 for students and $7 for everyone else. Arrive by 6:45 p.m. if you want a seat.
Tomorrow -- Friday, March 27 -- teens from the Neutral Zone's Short Story Workshop will be reading new stories on the theme of "Impostors" at the Downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library. The reading is free, and will take place in the multi-purpose room at 7 p.m. This event is lower-key and lower-profile than the Poetry Slam, certainly. And the work is of a different character, often more focused on world-building than soul-baring. The writers are imaginative and talented and will take you to interesting places. Several of them are featured in last year's well-received Neutral Zone anthology The Lizards Are Crawling Back Through Your Window.
I'm really excited to hear new poems tonight, new stories tomorrow, and I know if you come to either event you won't leave disappointed.