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Get Into Jam
The INNER EAR poetry jam is full of Nike just do-it ethos (just not in a sick, product placement kind of way).
Forget the excuses.
You got something to say? Sign up. Rock the mic.
Just do it.
INNER EAR celebrates its five year anniversary from 7:30 to 11 p.m., May 17 at Full Circle Brewing Co. (tickets run $10, $12 day of).
In anticipation of the big show, co-founder Bryan Medina answers some quick questions on the jam.
For those who don't know, what's a poetry jam and how's it work?
Simply put, a poetry jam is the coming together of like minded artists, new and old, getting together for the love of their particular craft to learn and share, creating new and exciting ways of expression. Example: A potential open-miker signs his or her name on a list and waits to be called up to the stage; once called, they do what they do for either 2 poems or five minutes.
Give us a little history on INNER EAR.
The INNER EAR started in May 2003 at Kern St. Coffee Co., by good friends S. Bryan Medina and Mike L. Medrano when Kern St. Coffee's owner John Baker wanted a poetry reading to help bring customers to his shop during the evening every third Thursday.
In the fall of '03 Mike left the Ear to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree at Minnesota State University, and was replaced by MFA student and Fresno spoken-word phenom Deanna Pierro. During this time local DJ favorite, Jordan Werth (DJ Jordan) was invited to be a part of the show. With the new lineup in place, the ear began to push the boundaries of what a "poetry reading" was or should be — by incorporating what now has become it's staple: art, music, poetry & performance on an open mic tip. To promote further interest in the arts in Fresno and the valley is fun and exciting as well as artisticly and emotionally charged. It wasn't long until people heard of the poetry show "they did outside on the sidewalk," downtown, where dozens of people would sit outside and spill onto street next to the small coffee shop.
After a two year stay at Kern Coffee, the trio moved to its current home at Full Circle Brewing Co. In the spring of '06 DJ Jordan left the Ear to pursue his religious beliefs, bring in as his replacement, DJ Smack Jilly.
Five years is a long time for this sort of thing to exist in Fresno. What's with the longevity?
I think it has a lot to do with people wanting to share, to relate, wanting to get at something more than what is perceived. Their works are the outlet for something viable to say. With all that has happened here in the U.S. in the past few years, people are getting tired of fluff, poets and poetry listeners are looking for substance, something real
they can relate to.
Favorite Inner Ear moment/moments?
A) During our 2nd year anniversary show, this older African American man that no one knew went on the mic and sang this funny blues song with our house band backing him up. It was hands down, the best performance of the night! When I got the chance to talk to him, he told me that he was from out of town and was walking the streets waiting for the next Grey Hound when he heard the music of the band. When he saw what was happening he decided to sign up. Luckily, we got number that on film!
B) When the Tanjora Belly Dancers came out to last years anniversary show. 'Nuf said.
I kinda think of Fresno as a poetry town. Am I right?
And right you are! With names like Philip Levene, Peter Everwine, Gary Soto, Omar Salinas, Dixie Salazar, Lawson Inada, Juan Felipe Herrera, John and Connie Hales and now Tim Z. Hernandez to name a few, the "No" has a great history of Central Valley poets making names for themselves on the national level. I think the Valley just brings it out of people. The hot arid summers, foggy winters, Meth labs and car thefts, crooked political happenings, the way family and friends leave then come back after a couple years …Who wouldn't want to write?
What do you have planned for the next five years?
Tho' there are plans, if I told you all that, why would anybody come see the show? Come check it out and see what unfolds…
How does INNER EAR fit in the context of other literary arts organizations and events in town?
We're in it for the long haul…
That includes: 60 shows over the course of five years
370 poets/performers on stage between two different venues
No. 37 in Fresno Magazine's '05 listing of (50) best things to do in Fresno
Six "one show only" spoken word events produced by the INNER EAR ("The Arts, Politics, and Food Chautauqua" in '02, "The Buck-Wild Conservative Poetry Show" in '03, "Hip-Hop and Oxygen" in '04, "The INNER EAR Poetry Jam" during Fresno's Rogue Festival in '05, "Spontaneous Combustion" in summer of '05, and "Return to Life" in '05)
One City of Fresno Commendation for contributing to Fresno's artistic and cultural heritage