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June 2012
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Poets reflect on past, embrace future

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

A group of spoken-word poets will reflect on the past, present and future with performances that defy most common expectations of poetry.

River City Poetry - Samuel "Snacks" Hawkins, Levi McDuffee, Griggori Taylor and Shanden Simmons - will present two performances of "Year of the Phoenix: Snow Angels in the Ashes" today at Maiden Alley Cinema, 112 Maiden Alley.

"A lot of people's perception of poetry is page poetry," said McDuffee, a 21-year-old native of Metropolis, Ill. "Performance poetry ... is a lot more in-your-face, a little more theatrical than standard poetry."

Live musical accompaniment and audience participation also number among the elements that will set the spoken-word performances apart from typical poetry readings.

For the performers, the mythical phoenix, which dies in flames and is then reborn, seems an apt image to use in their show's title.

"(Phoenixes are) these fiery, wonderful birds that explode, and out of the ashes is birthed this new creature again," McDuffee said. "It (the show) is taking where we've been and where we are currently, and out of these ashes, stepping into the future."

McDuffee described River City Poetry as a new venture that grew from the poets' involvement in the Paducah Writers' Group, which meets weekly for open mic sessions at Etcetera Coffeehouse.

"We wanted to try to create something for poets ... to really get heard, to create more of a poetry scene than just the open mic," he said.

Hawkins agreed.

"One of the main things, especially in this area, is just to give writers, particularly poets, a platform not only to express themselves, but also to be challenged and get better," he said.

The group will offer two performances. The first will be 6 to 7:30 p.m., while the second will run from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Admission costs $7 at the door and $5 in advance. Advance tickets may be purchased by contacting Hawkins at 270-853-0241.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.


Want to go?

What: River City Poetry presents: Year of the Phoenix: "Snow Angels in the Ashes."

When: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Where: Maiden Alley Cinema, 112 Maiden Alley.

Tickets cost $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Advance tickets may be purchased by calling Samuel Hawkins at 270-853-0241.

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