Spoken word performances featuring the third poet laureate of Philadelphia Yolanda Wisher, National Poetry Slam Group Champion Mercedez Holtry, Denver’s inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Toluwanimi Obiwole, and National Poetry Slam semi-finalist and award-winning rapper Meta Sarmiento.
Join us early for a drink, doors open at 5pm. Performances begin at 5:30pm.
2020 Featured Artists
Philadelphia-based poet Yolanda Wisher is the author of “Monk Eats an Afro” and the co-editor of “Peace is a Haiku Song.” Wisher was named the inaugural poet laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in 1999 and the third poet laureate of Philadelphia in 2016. A Pew and Cave Canem Fellow, she has been a writer in residence at Hedgebrook and Aspen Words. Wisher taught high school English for a decade, served as director of art education for Philadelphia Mural Arts and was the 2017-2018 CPCW Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Wisher founded and directed the Germantown Poetry and Outbound Poetry festivals and currently works as the curator of Spoken Word at Philadelphia Contemporary. She regularly performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her band The Afroeaters and is part of the first cohort of artists with studios at the Cherry Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront.
Mercedez Holtry is a poet, writer, mentor, and Chicana feminist who focuses on bringing out her roots, experiences and lessons learned through her poetry in hopes that they embrace her people and other artists around her. She has represented ABQ on multiple final and semi final stages for national poetry events. She is a Brave New Voices finalist (2013), a two time finalist at the Women of the World Poetry Slam (2015, 2018), A National Group Piece Champion (2016), the winner of Modesto’s “ILL List Slam” in California (2017), a featured poet in Mexico City’s “Diverso” an international poetry festival embracing Mexican voices through poetry (2017) and holds multiple Albuquerque Slam Championships. She has worked with youth in poetry workshops in multiple cities around the country including Aspen Words’ “Poetry in the Schools” project since 2015.Mercedez is not only a poet but an outreach coordinator for Warehouse 508, Albuquerque’s Arts and Entertainment Center, in which she organizes workshops and poetry events for the youth to participate in. Since graduating from the University of New Mexico with her degrees in Chicano Studies and Journalism & Communications, she continues to cultivate the poetry slam community in Albuquerque, and co-founded and spearheaded “Burque Revolt”, a intergenerational poetry slam organization that creates safe spaces for all ages to enjoy. She is passionate about spoken word and aspires to continually learn all she can about her art through working, slamming and organizing for her community.
Toluwanimi Oluwafunmilayo Obiwole is a Nigerian-born, Colorado-raised poet, educator, and organizer. She was Denver’s first Youth Poet Laureate in 2015-2016. Since then, she has completed her Bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies and toured/performed nationally. In 2016 she co-wrote and co-starred in a play called How I Got Over which was featured at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. In 2017 she was announced as one of The Root’s 25 Young Futurists. She was a member of SLAM NUBA from 2015-2017, and is co-director of the Slam Nuba organization. In 2017 she was awarded the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award by the University of Colorado Boulder as well as the Black Excellence Award by the University’s Black Student Alliance. She is a two time TEDx Mile High speaker and is the author of two chapbooks: OMI EBI MI, and How to Become a Lightning Storm. She writes, hoping to cultivate her own black girl magic while creating space and a platform for people who have yet to realize that their voices are necessary.
Meta Sarmiento is a Filipino poet & rapper born and raised in Guam, now living in Denver, CO. Winner of the LYKMYNDYD Cypher 2018, Top 12 finisher at WRLD UNDERGROUND Rap Tournament 2018, and winner of DJ Cavem’s Water is Life Rap Challenge 2016. Meta is an Honorable Mention for the Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship 2018, a semifinalist at National Poetry Slam with Slam Nuba 2017, and a TEDx Speaker. His work is the recipient of the Best Made in the Marianas Award from Guam International Film Festival 2017. Meta is also a winner of Spoken Word for the World 2015, where he was flown to Paris, France to perform during the United Nations’ Climate Negotiations. His book of poems Tie Your Shoes Kid, explores themes of cultural identity, family, and childhood. His most recent rap album, Nobody Knew, explores the darker, grittier sides of his personality. His entire body of work explores themes of culture, masculinity, love, loss and healing.