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Zócalo/Da Poetry Lounge
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A Special Zócalo/Da Poetry Lounge Spoken Word Performance: Does Democracy Need Poets?


On January 17, Zócalo Public Square and Da Poetry Lounge present, “Does Democracy Need Poets?” As long as there have been poems, there have been political poems meant to sway opinion and inspire action.

As long as there have been poems, there have been political poems: verses, intended to be heard aloud, meant to sway opinion and inspire action. Poetry played a crucial role in the Athenian democracy of ancient Greece; throughout American history, poet luminaries such as Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou have employed the power of the pen to influence leaders and their fellow citizens. Today’s spoken word bards continue this tradition of stoking political activism by employing their art to expose cracks in America’s racial, economic, and social fabric—and pushing ever-broadening audiences to get out and vote in the face of escalating ballot suppression. Can art succeed where traditional political messaging has failed? Could the future of democracy depend on poets?

Join Zócalo as spoken word poets take the mic (and the Zócalo stage) at the ASU California Center, moderated by Alyesha Wise, Poet, Teaching Artist, and Co-Founder of Spoken Literature Art Movement. The night will begin with Beau Sia performing “We Voting,” and Sekou Andrews and Steve Connell performing “Water Stained Black,” followed by a conversation with the poets about the ways artists engage with politics, and fuel democracy.

This event is free and open to the public in person and online. Zócalo invites the in-person audience to continue the conversation with speakers and each other at a post-event reception with complimentary drinks and small bites.

After the program ends, head to Da Poetry Lounge at 544 N Fairfax Ave to join its weekly open mic night on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. with a suggested $10 donation for entry.

Photo credit: Still from Beau Sia’s “We Voting,” directed by Ray Lin (top). Still from “Water Stained Black,” performed by Sekou Andrews and Steve Connell. Videographer: Zack Mathers (bottom).