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Phoenix Lands 2014

Individual World Poetry Slam

Images by V.H. Hammer and used under the terms of a Creative Commons license.

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Images by Jeff Moses
Aaron Johnson, Owner Of Lawn Gnome Publishing, Provides A Glimpse Into The Collection Of Poetry-Themed Events That Will Consume The Phoenix Metro In October 2014


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By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

Nov. 14, 2013 — Phoenix has been selected to be the host city for the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam. Come October hundreds of poets and poetry lovers from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain will converge on the Phoenix Metro to participate in the event.

“Its never been in Arizona before but it’s been in some cities like Austin five times before there was even a South by Southwest,” said event coordinator, former slam poet and Lawn Gnome Publishing owner Aaron Johnson. “Some of the cities that have hosted the event in the past include New York City, Chicago, Boston, Long Beach, even Albuquerque got it before Arizona.”

Johnson put a bid into Poetry Slam Incorporated highlighting Phoenix’s proximity to an international airport, closeness of hotels and venues, and fun atmosphere and the council in charge selected it.

The event will take place Oct. 3, 4, and 5 and if Johnson has his way there will be a lot more to look forward to than just word-class poets in competition. Besides the slam itself, Johnson is hoping to hold Haiku Death Matches, a team poetry decathalon, a heckling poetry slam, and a poetry slam consisting completely of stand up comics.

“Other than the competition, I program all the events,” said Johnson.

He is also planning on holding a variety of different poetry workshops such as how to promote yourself as a poet, how to write a solid line, getting away from rhyming, how to write childrens poetry, and how to make a zine among other topics.

“Im also going to try and talk to Crescent Ballroom to try and  bring in some heavy hitters for late night events like Saul Williams would be great, Derrick Brown, Andrea Gibson would be awesome,” said Johnson.

The event itself consists of two days worth of preliminary rounds and then the final day featuring the final stage. For the final day Johnson is hoping to lockdown Arizona State University’s Herberger theater, while for preliminaries he is looking to The Phoenix Youth Theater, Phoenix Theater, The Phoenix Opera, as well as Space 55 and ASU’s AE building at Civic Space park.

As for daytime events, they are going for a different feel as far as venues are concerned.

”Daytime events will be held at places like Lawn Gnome and Firehouse Gallery, and other places around the arts district,” said Johnson.

The entire price scale for the event has not been mapped out yet, but Johnson is hoping to be able to sell full weekend passes for around $25, and is even looking to activate vacant lots for camping at a price of around $5 per night.

Johnson being the Phoenix homer that he is also went out and hired local artists Casebeer and Randall Wilson to design the events artwork and logo. Both are word collage artists who according to Johnson are looking to bring an “earth and urban” feel to the visuals for the event.

The main reason I want to bring this event to Phoenix is so people can see the caliber of poetry there is out there,” said Johnson, “It really does a lot for uniting people through poetry with a progressive slam, the politics of poetry are pretty progressive in general, so I’m excited.”

Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at jmoses@moderntimesmagazine.com.
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