PuroSlam Celebrates 20 Years of Spoken Word in the Alamo City
Photos by B Kay Richter - Contributing Photographer- SA Sentinel.
May 7, 2019 - St. Mary’s Strip - San Antonio, Texas
Article By: B Kay Richter - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel
There are only a few words which perfectly describe the PuroSlam poetry night which has graced multiple stages within the Alamo City since 1999: The good, The bad, and The ugly.
Admittedly, these lines were ripped from the title of a Clint Eastwood film, but the movie title sums up nicely those poetry slams which bring poets to the center stage every week to compete for the credit of being the best spoken-word champion.
According to Wikipedia, PuroSlam, originally started in 1999 by Benjamin Ortiz, is the only nationally certified poetry slam in San Antonio. Since 2000, the contest became the brainchild of Jason "Shaggy" Gossard and now meets at The Mix located along the St. Mary's Strip every Tuesday evening beginning at 10:30 p.m.
While the objective of the competition is to eventually allow local poets to grace a national stage, it also provides a voice to local talent. The poets are given three minutes to spout their words while judges decide and then announce their scores. From there, poets can either advance to the next round or have an opportunity to begin anew the following week.
Oh, and there is heckling. San Antonio is often considered the step-child of Austin's poetry slams due to the fact that hecklers are allowed to interject during the performance of the poet. In 2014 during an interview with the San Antonio Current, Gossard commented about these interjections. "I haven't tried to dictate the rules,” said Gossard. “The heckling is sometimes rough, irreverent and can be disrespectful, but then again, not everyone is meant to do this."
As far as the winner of the twentieth anniversary PuroSlam, Chibbi Orduña walked away with the grand title of champion alongside finalists Diamond Mason and Amalia Ortiz. Orduña’s work is often about communicating the themes of being gay and Mexican while residing in Texas.