I rarely, if ever, write about an event or interview a celeb/performer/artist that is not happening or performing during the upcoming weekend.  But this week I was compelled to make an exception because 500 poets representing 72 teams from across the U.S. and Canada will take over Oakland for the 25th Anniversary of the National Poetry Slam from August 5th through the 9th!  The pre-sale tix are flying off the digital shelf and I wanted to make sure that YOU had a chance to grab your tix before they are going, going, GONE!  So read about the mad, cool, events going on during the week of the Slam (next week) PLUS scroll down to see all that is worth going to this weekend if you are in the Bay Area.

1907694_10152612836618060_7793335064480965865_nFor the first time since the 1990s, the National Poetry Slam! returns home to the San Francisco Bay Area for its silver anniversary, August 5 -9th.

Get ready! A fierce spat of dueling words is coming to Oakland for the first time ever and the city will never be the same.

An estimated 500 poets representing 72 slam teams from across the U.S. and Canada -seven from the Bay Area -will verbally battle it out for five days in front of thousands of fans for the title of 2014 National Poetry Slam Champion.

This year, the poetry competition features an all-female slam team, from New York’s Nuyorican Poets Café, the Nuyorican; a new San Francisco team New Sh!t Squad (performing only poetry written during July) and the Last Chance Squad, a team that will be formed the eve before the festival begins.

Six Bay Area veteran slammers -Daphne Gottlieb, Jamie DeWolf, Joyce Lee, Meliza Bañales (a.k.a. Missy Fuego), Mesej 1, and Shawn William -are being honored as the faces of the 25th Anniversary of the National Poetry Slam, representing the diversity of the Bay Area’s slam poetry community.

Creative Oakland

“It’s an incredible opportunity for Oakland to showcase itself as a gem in the Bay Area celebrating arts, celebrating community,


Mona Webb – SF Slammaster

and celebrating our love for this city through the power of voice,”said Maureen Benson, volunteer host city co-director of the National Poetry Slam!.

Mona Webb, who is Slam Master of the San Francisco Slam and one of the Bay Area organizers and community outreach coordinator for NPS, agreed.

“The Bay Area, we are an extraordinarily diverse artist community and to showcase that to the national poetry circuit that everyone’s voices are being represented, that’s important,”said Webb, who is hosting the “Take Back the Night Women’s Open-Mic.”

Sheila E, co-founder of Elevate Oakland and the Elevate Hope Foundation, agreed.
“This city has set the stage to introduce even more gifted youth with the potential to impact our world. The National Poetry Slam! is showcasing some amazing young poets,”said singer and Oakland native Sheila E. “It encompasses some of the most artistically creative and talented people in the nation.”

Ticket sales to the poetry slam will raise money for Elevate Oakland, a joint venture between 51Oakland and Elevate Hope Foundation to bring arts to Oakland Public Schools.

Dahled Jeffries, volunteer co-director of the poetry competition, is excited to share Oakland with his “poetry family.”

“It makes me very excited and very proud to be able to show Oakland some of the most talented spoken word artists in the world,”added longtime Oakland poet Jeffries proud to show off the city as well as have Oakland serve as a stage for local and visiting poets.”The folks that we are bringing in are just incredibly talented. It excites me that they are going to be on the stages here and bringing their energy to the folks of the town.”

Jeffries is also the Slam Master of the Oakland Slam Team.


Maureen Benson Volunteer Co-Director

25 Years: The Power of Art

A former high school principal and English teacher, Benson, who became involved in the East Bay poetry scene after she moved to Oakland 15 years ago, believes that the duration of the competition for a quarter of a century qualifies the power of art.

“It celebrates just how powerful art and the power of voice is in each of us,”said Benson, pointing out that not only has the festival survived, it has thrived.

“It has exponentially grown into the largest festival of its kind. There is absolutely nothing like this on this scale anywhere on the planet,”said Benson.

Jeffries agreed, pointing out that when slam started in the 1990s in San Francisco there was originally two teams and an individual poet. When San Francisco hosted third nationals a couple of years later there were 16 teams of four poets, he said. Today, slam is very different.

The slam competition is more than the sport of words. Throughout the five days attendees will enjoy a variety, more than 80, themed workshops, open mics, and showcases including hip hop, Haiku, Latin, Asian, queer, women, youth and more. Every night there will be late night entertainment, including an Erotica Slam and Dirty Haiku Battle and for the feminists a Take Back the Night Women’s Open-Mic, as well as sober spaces, such as trivia night. Youth workshops are free for young people 14-19 years old. Finals will be at the gorgeous Scottish Rite Center on Saturday August 9th.

“We have stuff for every different kind of person there is,”said Jeffries. “Come out we’ve got something for you.”

Dahled Jeffries Oakland Slammaster and Volunteer Co-Director

Dahled Jeffries Oakland Slammaster and Volunteer Co-Director

Jeffries hinted that the night to come, if people are planning to attend only one night, is Friday, August 8. Friday will be jam packed with events and that an extra unannounced late night event will happen.

“The inside tip is if you are only going to come to one night come to Friday,”said Jeffries. “There’s an early show and then a late show and a secret, secret extra late show. You just have to be there to hear about it.”

“There are seriously dozens of events that I’m so excited about,”said Benson. “I’m just going to have a Red Bull in my purse, run around all week and have an incredible time.”

Art in Schools

The host city team co-directors are proud to support Elevate Oakland to increase art in Oakland Public Schools.

“They are about leaving Oakland powerfully impacted by the arts and I loved that about them,” says Maureen, who hopes to raise $10,000 – $15,000 to put artists into Oakland schools for the coming school year.

Yoshi Akiba, co-owner of Yoshi’s Jazz Club and co-founder of Elevate Oakland is a huge supporter of arts in the schools said that she couldn’t imagine kids losing access to art and music.


Sheila E of Elevate Oakland

“The power of art and music is beyond description! I do not want to imagine a world where our children do not have access to something so important,”said Akiba, whose goal is to make sure Oakland’s public schools have access to music and art.

“Without access to art and music, kids will lose the ability to express themselves and be open to new things,”said Akiba. “Music sets us free. At the same time it brings us together.”

The festival is also co-sponsored each year by Poetry Slam, Inc. Locally, the festival has received generous support from The City of Oakland, The New Parkway Theatre, Visit Oakland, and two important supporters and venues for the event, Venue Oakland, and Impact HUB Oakland.

Slam is taking over Oakland, August 5 -9th. For the schedule of events and locations, visit NationalPoetrySlam.com. Tickets range in price from $15 for a semi-final bout on that coveted Friday night all the way up to $125 for a VIP pass (including wine and cheese before finals) for the entire week.

Reporting by Heather Cassell





Literary Death Match
Shadow Ultra Lounge
341 13th St, Oakland (map)
Doors at 7:15pm; show at 8pm (on the dot)
Cost: $8 preorder; $12 at the door

It’s taken us over eight years to wise up, but Literary Death Match is finally making its way to Oakland, with a debut that’ll have you in throes of lit, wit and wonderment overload. Don’t miss it, this one’s going to be an insta-classic!

What is Literary Death Match? 4 authors read their own work for 7 minutes or less. They’re judged by 3 all-star judges who respond (often comedically) to the work before choosing 2 finalists to compete in the LDM finale, a vaguely literary game (think Pin the Mustache on Hemingway) to decide the ultimate champion.

Literary Merit: Joshua Safran, activist and author of Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid
Performance: Sonya Renee Taylor, poet, activist and founder of The Body Is Not an Apology
Intangibles: Karinda Dobbins, stand-up comedian

* Tim “Toaster” Henderson, performance poet extraordinaire
* Mac Barnett, New York Times bestselling author of children’s books (Extra Yarn) and a 2013 Caldecott winner
* Nancy Davis Kho, essayist whose work appeared in Oh, Sandy: An Anthology of Humor for a Serious Purpose
* Jaz Sufi, performance poet and amateur dogwalker

Hosted by LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga



811 Washington, Oakland

Just in time for summer!!

GRÜV is the newest, freshest house music party in Oakland! Beats are served on THE BEST sound system in the East Bay (seriously, this custom OPUS Audio system ROCKS)!! Cool drink specials; casual vibe; smiles and good people throughout. Every 1st & 3rd Wednesday night in the heart of Old Oakland at Parliament. Slide through early for Happy Hour, or marinate ’till Thursday!

Presented to you by:
OHM (Oakland House Music) Syndicate


Red Hots Burlesque
supperClub657 Harrison, St, SF

“Red Hots Burlesque guides you through the gaggle of gams and team of tatas with new performers [each week] including trained aerial acrobat(s), drag, comedy and old fashioned striptease…watch them twitch and twatch.” funcheapSF.com

Deemed part of the “top 3 burlesque shows in the country to take your girl to” by Playboy’s City Guide. “The hottest happy hour in the bay.” and Bay Guardian’s & SF Weekly’s-Best Happy Hour Red Hots Burlesque has been San Francisco’s only weekly burlesque show for over 5 years. They bring their special brand of hot cha cha to supperclub

questions or reservation please email info@supperclub-sf.com or call 415-348-0900

A new and different show every week, including babes, burlesque, sideshow, variety, musical acts, drag and comedy!

Our show seats at 7:00! We are punctual! In order to ensure your seat especially if you are a large party 4 or more please email info@supperclub-sf.com

Show runs until 10pm and Includes full menu of delicious a la carte snacks and meals expertly designed for Red Hots Burlesque.





First Friday with the Latin Soul Brothers
Era Art Bar
19 Grand, Oakland
FREE before 9pm
$10 after


with DJ’s:
The Latin Soul Brothers:


hiphop, reggae, latin, funk, afrobeat, house, & other music to move to.

Groups, Bottle Service, Birthdays please e-mail:




Oakland First Friday/Art Murmur
LA GENTE & Candelaria
Awaken Cafe
1429 Broadway, Oakland

La Gente is a Bay Area based international recording group led by singer-songwriter Rafael Bustamante Sarria. The group has created their own unique multilingual blend of Reggae, Cumbia, Hip-Hop, Salsa, Rock, and World Music. They perform a high energy dance party and have cultivated a large, loyal and diverse following.

Combining the long lost cousins cumbia and dub, Candelaria has created a dance music that moves your feet and blows your mind. Candelaria has become cutting edge by going back to basics. While many other world dance bands are drifting further away from live performance and into the realm of computer driven programmed beats and effects, Candelaria has gone the opposite direction. All of their music, as well as recordings, are performed live and all effects are done in real time.





Art and Soul Festival
Downtown Oakland
August 2 & 3

2 Days of hot bands, cool art, awesome food and great vibes in Downtown Oakland. This year, Day 1 includes a fully-sanctioned BBQ contest.

The Art + Soul Oakland, the City of Oakland’s flagship festival that launched downtown’s cultural and economic renaissance, heats up with the inaugural Oaktown Throwdown BBQ competition on Saturday, August 2. Professional pit masters from all over California and backyard teams drawn from the local community will show off their skills while competing for cash prizes. The public will be invited to view the action up close and if desired, sample and then vote for their favorite fare (additional sampling fee will apply). In a perfect pairing, the Bay Area Blues Society continues its annual Art + Soul tradition with a rousing showcase featuring veteran Oakland blues artists and Bay Area blues legend Tommy Castro and The Painkillers.

Tens of thousands are expected for the popular two-day event, now in its 14th year, packed with sensational music, food, fun, dance and art in beautiful downtown Oakland. Blues, R&B, Soul, Funk, Gospel, Rock, Latin, Turf and Urban/World Dance will take place on four stages.



Soul Down
Naima Shalhoub and Jackie Gage
The Sound Room
2147 Broadway, Oakland
$12 adv | $15 door

On Saturday, August 2, two Bay Area rising stars unite once again in the space they first met, The Sound Room (Oakland, CA) in a tribute to jazz, art and soul.

Naima Shalhoub and Jackie Gage—two up-and-coming soul vocalists who first met in friendly competition during Jazz Search West 2014, formed a musical friendship rooted in sound and heart. Tonight, these two rising stars unite once again in the space they first met, The Sound Room (Oakland, CA) in a tribute to jazz, art and soul. Soul Down is an expression of the modern movement of music in the Bay Area; when the sun goes down, the sultry music that accompanies it empowers cultures, genres, and the force of music within the world.


The SF Last Chance Slam
7:00pm – 9:00pm
(Workshop 7:00p – 7:30p; Slams 7:40p – 9:00p)
at the African American Arts and Culture Complex
762 Fulton St. SF

6 to 8 slots are available for Bay Area Poets Only/first come first serve

This will be HISTORIC – 3 Nights of POETRY SLAMMING (dates and times listed below) – ONLY 4 POETS WILL SURVIVE! This is the first of its kind; The SF LAST CHANCE NATIONAL POETRY SLAM TEAM Competition (Oakland is proud to host the 25th National Poetry Slam, 5 days of the world’s top spoken word artists rocking powerful performances in the planet’s biggest poetry battle/Aug 5th – 9th).

Bay Area this is your time to come out and support your favorite poet as s/he STEPS UP TO THE MIC to battle it out for a chance to represent San Francisco at the 2014 National Poetry Slam as a member of the SF LAST CHANCE TEAM!!!

SF Last Chance Prelim Slam:
Exploring The Stolen Legacies: The Nappy Roots of Africa’s Contribution to Civilization

There will be a Creative Writing Workshop inspired by the exhibition facilitated by Pr3ssPlay Poets & Productions

Hosted by SF Slammasters:

FREE Admission
Donations are encouraged!





Tribune Building
13th & Franklin, Oakland

Top Ten Social and Fusicology are partnering to put the crown on Oakland’s Art + Soul weekend, welcoming one of the Bay Area’s most internationally celebrated soul DJ’s, Mr. David Harness. It’s BETTER DAYS, a sunDAYparty and brunch experience at The Town’s signature skyline fixture, The Tribune Building.

::Arrive early and connect over brunch; give it a bit and it turns into an open air dance party harkening fond memories of some of life’s most festive times..

::Begin with eye winks and cuddles on the patio lounge, and get a little closer on the dance floor from 2-9P. A rotating lineup of local and international disc jockeys add the final note to the party on Oakland’s Art and Soul weekend, just steps from the festival.

::DJ’s David Harness (Moulton), Rahiem Jihad (ATM) & Cali (thePeople) on vibe control.. BETTER DAYS are around the corner..

2 Responses

  1. Khamy Elia

    I guess I must have missed it but, WHERE will the Poetry Slam be held? Aug 5-9 …….. IM BLIND, HELP!!!!

  2. Jackie

    I just wanted to send some serious love your way for including our show SOUL DOWN in your list for the week! I don’t know how you knew about it, so seeing this is truly heartwarming. We had a killer show, and can definitely thank you for spreading the good word so… thank you!

    – Jackie


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