The National Underground Spokenword Poetry Awards (NUSPA) -pronounced new-spa - has been coined “The Grammys for Spokenword.”
So, when my best friend found out his poetry collaboration book was nominated for a NUSPA, he actually called me (we always text, blame technology for diluting the essence of interpersonal relationships) to give me the good news. And of course, I was elated.
The NUSPAs were established on September 6, 2003 in Lanham, Md., in an effort to celebrate poetry and its impact on our local and national communities. This coveted awards ceremony has united over 22 cities, packed out venues and receives much anticipation from artists and those who appreciate the craft.
Although I’m not a poet (I used to do some slight work in high school), the NUSPAs still grant people like me the opportunity to vote on the nominees. So, I was super excited to see some familiar names on the roster:
The Left Side Poets Present Strange Fruit– Nominated for Poetry Book of the Year
Last summer, I had the honor of assisting my favorite group of poets, The Left Siders, in hosting their book release celebration. A standing room only-- and rather muggy --Tabaq Bistro was graced with artists pouring out their souls, and consequently, audience members pouring out their wallets. Even if you didn’t leave with a book (I think they sold out) you left with a piece of history from each performer who graced the stage.
Likewise, Strange Fruit accomplishes that same passion in written form. Described as “a collection of pieces delving into the battle between youthful curiosity and adult angst… an anthology of work that tackles historical preservation, deference of the flesh, religious ambivalence and the vicissitudes of love, while striking a balance between the distinctive styles of its members… a conversation about life's physical, spiritual and mental challenges and how the written and spoken word can be used as a gateway to understanding exactly what it is that ails us through narrative, prose and lyricism...”
I got my copy and they’ve got my vote!
Graffiti DC– Nominated for Best Venue
I have a four-year old son so my weeknights are usually comprised of homework, cartoons and an 8pm bedtime. I only get a sitter during the week if the event truly merits my time away from home. But every now and then, I’ll mange to get out of the house on a Wednesday night to get my dose of Graffiti DC.
Only in its second season, this premier monthly slam has been able to engage consumers by providing an appealing interaction between the slammers and their audience. Crowd members are able to be official judges, as well as, vocal sideline critics. My only fear is for the poets who lack talent because they’re definitely going to know it when they leave--as they should. Shrug.
Karega Bailey– Nominated for Spokenword Performance, Male
Karega was one of the guest poets at The Left Siders’ book release celebration, and for good reason. His messages speak volumes and his delivery moves mountains.
Karega also supported my Youth Summit for domestic violence awareness last October, bringing a group of his high school students along with him. It was clear that he was a valued teacher because of his genuine concern for the advancement of youth and our overall society.
With that said, even if you don’t know these people go VOTE on the fact that they’ve been #SturdiApproved. And even better, support local and national artists on Saturday, May 5that the NUSPAs. Tickets are $35. I’ll see you there!
Image retrieved from here