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Library Brings Back First Friday Youth Poetry Slam

A year after making a raucous debut, popular event returns, featuring 14 young poets.

One year ago at the Mill Valley Library, more than a dozen young poets used the library’s first-ever First Friday Slam Poetry Competition as a launching pad to great heights, garnering raucous praise from a packed house that left many pleasantly surprised at the level of interest in slam poetry in Mill Valley and the talent level it drew.

One of those stellar poets, then-Tam High senior Billy Butler, later went on to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of the What’s Going On Now project, a celebration of Marvin Gaye’s May 1972 performance of his landmark What’s Going On album.

Library officials are bringing the competition back this Friday, hoping to encourage more young poets and their supporters. 

"Last year's audience was really impressed, and I think a little surprised, by the high quality of the performances and the poems," says Katie MacBride, the city's young adult librarian. "I don't think they expected to be stomping and cheering at a poetry event, but the performers really inspired a lot of enthusiasm."

Butler will be back too, this time returning from college to be a judge. He'll be joined on the panel by Carolyn Losee, coordinator of the Marin Poetry Center High School Poetry Contest, and Dana Teen Lomax, a poet and teacher of English composition, creative writing,and literature for over 15 years.

In the first round of the Slam, each contestant performs an original poem on a subject of their choice. After each contestant performs, a panel of judges will give the contestant a score. The contestants with the three highest scores move on to a championship round. The contestant who receives the highest score in the championship round will be crowned the Slam winner.

The grand prize winner will take home an iPad Mini, while the runner-up will receive a $50 gift card to Mill Valley Music and the third-place finisher will get a $25 Sol Food gift certificate. All contestants in the competition will receive $20 in "library bucks," which can be used to pay off Mill Valley Library fines or purchase books at the monthly Friends of the Library Book Sale.

The 411: The Slam Poetry Competition on March 1 is free and open to adults and high school students. Doors open to registered guests at 6:30 pm, and the event will begin at 7 pm in the Library's Main Reading Room. Beverages will be served after the event. Space is limited, so registration is recommended. To register, call 415-389-4292, ext. 4740 or sign up online at www.millvalleylibrary.org.

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