Spoken Word

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Glenn North describes spoken word poetry as "in your face," using word play and slang. And he's gained a reputation as a performance poet, sharing the stage with poets like Amiri Baraka and Nikki Giovanni. 

The community programs and education director at the Black Archives of Mid-America, North has worked with urban youth to develop their open mic skills, and encouraged them to write a style of poetry that's meant to be performed for an audience. 

Karen Matheis / Larryville Artists

Throughout the 1990s, Mark Hennessy was the frontman for the hard rock Lawrence band PAW. After the band broke up in 2000, Hennessy turned his focus to writing — and continued performing.

"I think performance of poetry offers opportunities to communicate in ways that the page just doesn't," says Hennessy. 

Terance Williams / Facebook

When Glenn North read a poem at the grand opening for the American Jazz Museum in 1997, something clicked.

From that moment on, the poet and the museum grew in tandem.  In 2004, North officially joined the museum's staff, establishing a nationally recognized spoken word scene at the museum's Blue Room.

North recently left his post as education manager and poet-in-residence. He plans to finish his master's degree and focus on his poetry.

Upon his departure, Central Standard invited him to sit down for a talk. Among the highlights:

Slam Poetry Meets Jazz

Jul 4, 2012
Eric Baker / KCUR

Let’s play a word association game.  What’s do you think when I say, “Kansas City?”  Barbecue?  The Royals? How about jazz?  Now what about when I say “Jazz,” what do you think?  It probably isn’t poetry.