7th Annual “Passing the Mic” Spoken Word Series


Willie Ney, Executive Director

Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI)

(608) 890-1055


7th Annual “Passing the Mic” Spoken Word Series:

Adding Poetry, Rhythm and Music to the Wisconsin Book Festival

MADISON, Wis. – (Oct. 3, 2011) – Some of the best known names in poetry and hip-hop, from Sonia Sanchez and Danny Simmons to the latest members of the First Wave Hip Hop Theater Ensemble, will take the words of the Wisconsin Book Festival to the next level with poetry,  rhythm and music. This year’s 7th Annual Passing the Mic Spoken Word Series will be held in conjunction with the annual book fest Oct. 20-22.

This year’s “Passing the Mic” will highlight and celebrate the work of internationally-renowned African-American artists Sonia Sanchez and Danny Simmons, who will both do readings.  Hosted by Jessica Care-Moore and a member of First Wave, this signature event of the Wisconsin Book Festival will involve poets from the revolutionary First Wave Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble at the UW-Madison, as well as the Midwest Youth Poetry Slam All-Stars representing youth communities from Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities.

The event will open with the Just Bust Spoken Word & Hip Hop Open Mic from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, in Memorial Union’s Play Circle, hosted by First Wave.

On Friday, Oct. 21, the event will host the Encyclopedia Show at 7 p.m. in the Overture Center’s Wisconsin Studio featuring Robbie Q. and Shanny Jean Maney with special guest Lynda Barry and other surprise guests.

Robbie Q. Telfer is currently the Director of Performances for Young Chicago Authors, a nonprofit that gives creative writing, performance, and mentorship opportunities to Chicago teens. Through Young Chicago Authors, he is the head organizer of Louder Than A Bomb, the Chicago city-wide youth slam and the largest team-based youth poetry slam in the world. He’s an active teaching artist and lecturer in the Chicago community. Telfer is credited with helping to bridge the divide between stage and page poetry by publishing poetry and criticism in places like the cream city review, Octopus Magazine #10, and the March/April 2006 American Book Review.

In 2008, along with Shanny Jean Maney, a performance poet and teacher, Telfer co-founded The Encyclopedia Show, a live literary variety show that presents different topics at each show. Since its founding, the show has spread to over a dozen cities in four different countries around the world. This will be the Madison debut of the Encyclopedia Show.

Another Friday special guest will be Lynda Barry, one of the most successful non-mainstream American cartoonists, is perhaps best known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek. Barry’s cartoons often view family life from the perspective of pre-teen girls from the wrong side of the tracks, along with her book, The Good Times are Killing Me, about an interracial friendship between two young girls. Also a novelist, Barry’s works include  “Cruddy” (2000); “One! Hundred! Demons!” (2002); and “What It Is” (2008), which won the 2009 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work. Barry will be the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Artist in Residence during Spring semester 2012, teaching a writing and picture-making class called, “What It Is: Manually Shifting the Image.”

“Passing the Mic” will culminate on Saturday, Oct. 22 with an intergenerational tribute to Sonia Sanchez and Danny Simmons from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater featuring Jessica Care-Moore, an internationally renowned poet/ publisher/ activist/ rock star/ playwright and actor. She is a five-time Showtime at the Apollo winner; has featured on hip-hop mega-star, Nas’ “Nastradamus” album and was a returning star of Russell Simmon’s HBO Series, Def Poetry Jam.

Also sharing the stage Saturday night will be  HBO Def Poetry on Broadway veterans Mayda del Valle and Black Ice, First Wave Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble and the Midwest Spoken Word and Hip-Hop All-Stars. Prior to the show will be a 7:15 p.m. book signing with Sonia Sanchez and guest artists in the lobby.

First Wave is a cutting-edge multicultural artistic program for incoming UW-Madison students and the first university program in the nation centered on Spoken Word and Hip-Hop culture. Each year, the program admits a 15-member cohort into a close-knit, dynamic campus learning community, overseen by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives. For more information go to: http://omai.wisc.edu.


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