SF State Alumni Moderates Poetry Jam

Jazzmene Lizardo

As the talking quiets down, a line of poets begin to introduce themselves through their spoken word, filling the room with their excerpts and explanations of their books, “Tiny” Gray-Garcia takes the lead.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Laureate poet, Kim Shuck, moderates monthly poem jams at the SF Main Library while allowing different poets every month to come in and share their pieces for a crowd of people. Hosted it in the Latino/ Hispanic room on the lower level of the library, seven poets from Po’Poet’s recited their poetry and talked about the books that each has published. This month’s event was dedicated to the Poor Press Book release.

Shuck, a SF State alumna, started her poetry career when she became the poet warrior of San Francisco. She started to perform when her mentor forced her on stage. “She said, ‘Alright do you have any of your poetry on you?’ and I was like yeah, and she said, ‘Alright get onto stage,’ explained Shucks. 

The poem jam was originally created for poets to improvise poems, share other poets poems, and then Shuck finally decided on having poets recite their own poetry.

Seven poets gathered on stage, as they recited each excerpt before individually taking the stage to perform their original pieces.

Vallejo’s Angel Heart took the stage as she did not bring any poetry, she talked about the synopsis from her book “HorSE Tuuxi, My name is Kai ”. Grandmother of four, she started her writing professionally recently, but originally started to write three to four years ago. Heart went on about the background of her book, “My inspiration comes from the Ohlone people from being on their land and not realizing they were occupying their space,” Heart said. “The Ohlone people were my inspiration, also the fact that the educators were really scrambling to find some supplemental education also inspired me.”

After Heart, six more poets took the stage. Next was grieving mother Audrey Candycorn, who published a book based on poems she wrote when she lost her son who passed away at the age of 17. In an all-white outfit and grey heels, she revealed the inspiration behind her book, and proceeded to read a piece called “A Black Mother’s Cry,” which she wrote when her son first passed to express her grieving emotions. SF State student Alexis Castro, attended the poem jam to help further herself into the world of poetry, so she can gain more confidence to eventually perform herself. As for her favorite performance, touched by Candycorn’s performance.

“When I come to the poem jams, I am always inspired by the words that these poets put together. “Tonight, especially with the poem about the grieving mother. It makes me focus on how I should put more expression into my writing too,” said Castro.

Before the main poet of the night went on, two more poets took stage. Diallo McLinn, who is from Berkeley, performed from his book “Post Modernism and the New Frontier”. Next was Leroy F. Moore, a black  poet, with Cerebral Palsy, who has worked with Shucks for four decades, and read an excerpt from his book “Black Disabled Ancestors”.

Wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, with a hat tilted sideways, co-editor of POOR Magazine and poet, Lisa “Tiny” Gray Garcia went on stage to be the last poet of the night. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Tiny dedicated her book “When Mama and Me lived Outside, One Family’s Journey Through Homelessness,” and her spoken word to the struggles her and her mother had through poverty as indigenous women.

“I realized that that story needed to be told for those children for those mommas and daddies who are dealing with houselessness, for parents and educators who teach houselessness children,” said Tiny, “I wrote the poem in honor of my mom and me and all that we went through and the ways which poor women often times seek dangerous situations to just stay safe and not be home.”

Poem jams are hosted monthly at the SF Main Library, for further info check the Main Library website on scheduled poem jam events.