‘Big Wave’ of poetry rolls into Florence

Florence Regional Arts Alliance brings back Spoken Word Poetry Contest May 12 and 13

The second annual Big Wave Poetry Festival, sponsored by Florence Regional Arts Center (FRAA), takes place May 12 and 13 at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St .

Friday evening, starting at 6 p.m., is the Spoken Word Poetry Contest, when 30 poets from around the state will perform their 3-minute original poems while competing for the largest cash prizes in the state for poetry.

First prize is $500 and second place receives $250. In addition, There are four category prizes of $100 each for “best humor,” “nature,” “personal reflections” and “social commentary.”

Judging for the contest is done by five random audience members, scoring each participant from 0 to 10. The top and bottom scores are thrown out and the three middle scores are added together for the poet’s final score.

Audience members are encouraged to snap their fingers during parts of the poems they like, and to voice opinions about the judges’ scores by booing or cheering.

As FRAA committee co-chair Karen Brown explained, “This ain’t your grandma’s poetry. Even people who profess not to like poetry will love this competition with 3-minute performances that will move you to tears one moment and laughter the next.”

The event starts at 6 p.m., but from 5 to 6 p.m. is a “meet and greet” with the poets.

Admission is $10 and tickets can be purchased at the door.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday is the Teen Spoken Word Poetry Contest for middle and high school students. Poems must be original and limited to 3 minutes.

Cash prizes of $100, $50 and $25 will be given to first, second and third place winners.

Admission is free.

Teens who wish to participate can sign up at www.fraaoregon.org under “Poetry Fest,” or go to the FRAA Art Center, 120 Maple St., and sign up in person.

Saturday evening, starting at 6:30 p.m., will be the premier showing of a documentary called “From Prison to Purpose,” the story of Noah Schultz, former resident of Camp Florence.

This is the story of Schultz’s life, from drug dealer and gang member, to college grad, social activist, TedX speaker and award-winning poet.

The film shows how and why Schultz got involved in the life of crime, starting at age 12, what happened to cause him to be sentences to 90 months of incarceration, and how he transformed his life while in prison.

Schultz will be at the screening, along with Stephen Fowler, last year’s Big Wave Poetry Contest winner and another graduate of Camp Florence who transformed his life while incarcerated.

Schultz and Fowler will talk about their personal journeys and perform spoken word poetry.

“These two young men are so inspiring,” says Big Wave Poetry Fest co-chair, Judy Plumery. “They each spent from ages 17 to 24 years in juvenile detention facilities, but were able to use that time to change who they were and now they help other young people who are going down the wrong path.”

Admission is $10.

For more information about the Big Wave Poetry Fest events, visit www.fraaoregon.org and click on “Poetry Fest.”

Tickets can be purchased at the door of the events center or at the FRAA Art Center.

Big Wave Poetry Fest T-shirts are available for purchase at the FRAA Art Center and at each of the events.