The Poetic License 2013 festival promises "new poetic theater" that features 75 artists in 15 different shows. Produced by Poetic Theater Productions, it is now running at The Wild Project until January 27. Intrigued by the concept of "poetic theater," we phoned up four of the festival's artists who will be taking the stage this week, to chat about their work and what gets them writing, performing, and going.
Poet: Tanaya Winder
Show: Love in a Time of Blood Quantum, featuring an all Native American cast
Hitting Poetic License: Thursday, January 24 at 6 PM.
Bio: Winder is a poet, writer, artist, and educator from the Southern Ute and Duckwater Shoshone Nations. A winner of the 2010 A Room Of Her Own Foundation's Orlando prize in poetry, she is a co-founder and editor of As/Us: An Indigenous Women's Literary Journal.
Inspiration: "I considered myself more of a page poet, but as I learned how to write about trauma without making it traumatic to read, I consciously started writing as if it would be read aloud," Winder said of her work. "[This play] explores how people find not only love but self love. The easiest way to communicate [difficult themes] is on the stage. It makes it less political or frightening."
Poet: Eboni Hogan
Show: Foreign Bodies
Hitting Poetic License: Friday, January 25 at 8 PM, and Sunday, January 27 at 2 PM.
Bio: Born in the Bronx to an emcee and a choir girl, Eboni Hogan is a performance poet, playwright and teaching artist. After studying theater at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, she went on to become the 2010 Women of the World Poetry Slam champion, 2010 Underground Indies SlamcChampion, 2008 Urbana Grand Slam champion, and a two-time representative of the Nuyorican Slam Team. She has performed and facilitating workshops in over 30 U.S. cities, as well as abroad in Ghana, Germany and Austria. Her first collection of poems, "Grits," was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize. She currently resides in Chinatown "with a tattoo artist and the world's fattest baby."
Inspiration: "Foreign Bodies is a true account of my 6 month stay in Ghana," Hogan said. "I had been recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and decided, in one of those manic moments, that I was going to go to Africa. So the show is about being a foreigner in another place, but also in your own flesh. [In Africa], I had surgery and got Malaria a few times --all these things that brought me a little closer to knowing what death actually is…This show is pretty raw. It is just me throwing open my closet and letting people have a gander at all my skeletons in there. I am being as open and honest as I can be. And if they're not laughing, then I am not doing something right."
Poet: Caroline Rothstein
Show: faith ("with a lowercase ‘f'"), co-presented by Timberline Knolls in association with NORMAL, Directed by Alex Mallory
Hitting Poetic License: Saturday, January 26 at 8 PM.
Bio: Rothstein is a New York City-based writer, performer, self-proclaimed "theater kid," and the host of "Body Empowerment" on YouTube. She originally performed her one-woman play, faith, as part of the Culture Project's Women Center Stage 2012 Festival. Rothstein's performance-poem "fat" went viral after Lady Gaga tweeted it.
Inspiration: "faith is autobiographic account of a decade long eating disorder, followed by my recovery," Rothstein said. "It starts when I am 11, and ends when I am 28. It's about letting go of shame. I hope that people come away feeling safe enough to be vulnerable, inspired to be comfortable with their true selves."
Poet: LaTonia Phipps
Show: She Who Struggles, hosted by 6@6
Hitting Poetic License: Saturday, January 26 at 6 PM.
Bio: Phipps is an Actor/Performance Artist/Educator/Playwright, raised in Brooklyn. A trained actress, she had her first writing debut with her one-woman-show Fishin' In Brooklyn, which played The Woodstock Fringe Festival and Theater Row.
Inspiration: "I just recently moved to Harlem, but I can see the change in my community," Phipps said. "I grew up in Brooklyn and returning home was the first time I experienced gentrification on my own shore. So I started questioning Harlem. There is this restaurant called Sylvia's, which is really old, [competing with] Red Rooster, the hipper place next door. So I would go and sit in these restaurants and listen to people have conversations and be an ear for this community. And they were bitter about these changes that they didn't feel included in. I was questioning why there was no check in with the community. So I wrote this piece to take two worlds, merge them together, and make them talk. It highlights a bit of gentrification in Harlem and the relationship between two women: one black one white. It infuses slam poetry, hip-hop…everything ties in."
For more information and tickets to Poetic License, click here.