North Park home to spoken word

by Edward Henderson

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It’s only 8:30 p.m. and the line outside Eveoke Dance Theatre in North Park has already begun to wrap around the building. Doors don’t open for another half hour, yet the diverse crowd continues to grow. Love for spoken-word poetry is the common bond that has brought this blend of spectators representing different ages, races and belief systems together.

Every first and third Thursday of the month at 9 p.m., Eveoke Dance Theatre hosts Elevated. Since 2005, Elevated has been the premiere spoken-word poetry showcase in San Diego. Jerrica Escoto, a graduate student at San Diego State and frequent performer at Elevated, explained why the event draws such a diverse crowd.

“Poetry isn’t just for one group of people; it’s a human experience. Poetry takes emotion and creativity and makes it a link that brings people together,” she said.

The event began when a collective of local poets decided to create a platform for members of the community to share their opinions, viewpoints and life stories through poetry.

Elevated is home to some of the best spoken-word artists in the world. Rudy Francisco, the reigning Individual World Poetry Slam champion was among those who brought the venue to fruition.

“I think what makes our venue so special is that it feels like home,” Francisco said. “Not only is the show entertaining, but in every poem you hear, you can cling onto something that was said and relate to it.”

That feeling of home is evident when walking into the venue. A spirit of camaraderie fills the room as people take their seats and share their excitement about the promise of the evening.

Once the first poet steps to the microphone, however, a thick silence descends over those in attendance as they prepare to ride the wave of emotions the poem takes them on. The first show of every month is an “open mic” where anyone can perform. The second show is a “poetry slam” where poets compete and five random audience members serve as judges. Winners of these slams get to compete for a spot on San Diego’s poetry slam team on a national stage.

“It’s not your usual night out like going bowling or to the movies” SDSU senior Mick Walsh said. “You’ll experience an aspect of San Diego like you never have before.”

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