I Slam, Therefore I Am: A Look into the LB Poetry Scene

Jan. 23, 2014 / By

Between Artesia Boulevard and Ocean Boulevard, sectioned off by Sante Fe and the San Gabriel River, there are more open mic events than one can count on two hands. Poets have been a part of Long Beach for decades and more recently, the poetry scene has seen a surge.

Poets are performing at every chance they get and outreaching to community members to listen, in hopes that the people they reach will too, be brave enough to share their own stories. This year, the city had its second annual poetry slam competition, which organizers say is really only the beginning for a thriving and growing community of artists. If you don’t tell your story, who will?

In the video above, VoiceWaves got a chance to chat with folks in the Long Beach poetry community to learn more.

For some residents of Long Beach, poetry is a way to express their creativity, heal themselves and tell their stories. In 2012, five women founded ¡DUENDE! Long Beach, a grassroots arts organization whose mission is to provide creative programming, mentoring, and performance opportunities for youth. They have taught poetry workshops and led a team to Brave New Voices, a national poetry slam competition, in their founding year.

“I started writing for my kids,” said Linda Delmar, writing instructor at the Homeland Cultural Center. “I wanted to write my family’s stories for them.” Delmar’s writing mentor was the late Manazar Gamboa, who wanted a place in Long Beach where youth could express themselves.

This desire is shared among those who call themselves writers, poets, spoken word artists. Over the years, open mics have continued sprouting up around the city. There are even folks who are committed to community outreach and equipping youth with the tools to tell their stories through spoken word.


Here’s a list of spoken word events in Long Beach—where you can listen to stories, and tell your own:

Poet to Poet Open Mic
It’s a Grind Coffeehouse
4245 Atlantic Avenue
Every Monday at 7pm

Open Mic Night
Portfolio Coffeehouse
2300 E. 4th Street
Every Wednesday at 7:30pm

Open Mic
Viento y Agua Coffeehouse
4000 E. 4th Street
Every Thursday at 7:30pm

Power Mic
Homeland Cultural Center
(Manazar Gamboa Theater)
1321 E. Anaheim Street
First Thursdays at 7pm

“Pizza Pi” Open Mic
2742 E. 4th Street
Every Thursday at 7pm

Bank-Heavy Variety Show
Bank-Heavy Press
5535 E. Spring St.
Last Thursdays

Xpressions Open Mic
The Bungalow Building
727 Pine Avenue
Every Third Friday at 6pm

The Definitive Soapbox
The Mirage Café
539 Bixby Road
Last Fridays at 7pm

The Griot Café
Shades of Afrika
1001 E. 4th Street
Saturday Night at Sundown
($5 Cover Charge)

The Writers Block
The Bluffs
2300 Ocean Blvd
Saturdays at 7

Twilight Walk Open Mic
Bungalow Art Center
727 Pine Avenue
First Sundays at 6pmGatsby, Re)Verb and Aortic Press Present:

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Deonna Anderson

Deonna N. Anderson is an alumnus of UC Davis, where she received her bachelors in communication, with minors in professional writing and sociology. She is a freelance writer, creator, and self-proclaimed foodie. As she continues her writing career, she plans to cover culture, education, and race. Another one of her goals is to see fifty countries by the time she’s 50. So far, she’s seen four—Canada, Spain, France and Japan. Since her first time stepping foot on other soil, she’s been committed to seeing as much of the world as humanly possible. When she’s not working, blogging, or plotting travel, Deonna likes trying out new recipes, going hiking, or reading a good book.