Azizi Jasper: Poetry and Politics | Arts & Culture
Joseph Charles McIntosh
There has been a continuous, if broken, poetry scene in Grand Rapids for nearly 20 years. It started notably with the beatnik/Bohemian Rainbow Collective in the late 80s and early 90s. It was revived by host Greg Bliss at the eclectic, anarchic poetry slam scene at Morningstar 75 and 76 coffeehouses (in downtown and Eastown, respectively) in the early 2000s. There has, more times than not, been a place for poets to vent in Grand Rapids.
Poet, performer and activist Azizi Jasper is the latest at the helm, hosting a poetry open mic at the Hookah Lounge for the past three and a half years. Before the Hookah Lounge, Jasper hosted an urban, Nuyorican-style open mic at Urban Beanery near the corner of Madison and Hall. This lasted two and a half years until the shop closed. And when it comes to the current scene, Japser is quite enthusiastic.
"It's really, really diverse -- you never know what you are going to hear," Jasper says. "The poetry scene here is great because it manages to be not stereotypical. I [have] literally heard...