TALK's Spoken Effect festival provides venue for word artists

While most of the audience temporarily seeks shelter 
under awnings to escape a brief rain shower, TALK's adult 
advisor, Steve Ploum endures the weather to listen to 
a performer at the organization's spoken word 
festival Saturday.

The lives and thoughts of local poets echoed across Dixie Highway in Homewood Saturday, peppered with rain but propelled by passion. 

Spoken Effect organizers 
Maggie Colton, left, and 
Raina Kalas introduce the 
event to the audience 

Spoken Effect was an event sponsored by Theatre Arts Leadership Kouncil (TALK) and hosted at St. Paul Community Church, led by organizers Maggie Colton and Raina Kalas. The spoken word festival featured poetry, short stories, dramatic readings, rap, and open mic offerings. 

Colton served as emcee during the first portion of the event, but she turned the mic over to the organization's adult adviser, Steve Ploum, who put in a plug for the efforts the group had put into organizing the event.

D'Yani "Samii" McFadden

He said the teens raised all the money needed to put on the event and offer a cash prize to the winner of the competitive poetry slam. 

TALK artists attend all of Homewood's festivals and offer face painting and living statues as part of their fund raising efforts.
TALK's visual and verbal artists also were the entertainers for The Urban Box Project's opening reception at the Union Street Gallery in Chicago Heights. Colton explained that as poets created new works between sets, visual artists used the poets as their canvases, painting designs on their bodies, giving the poets a new look each time they took the stage. The result was an evolving dance of word and image.

Nick "Nicodemus the Truth"

But at Saturday's event in Homewood, the wordsmiths were the focus of attention, from Nick "Nicodemus the Truth" Dimas' hip hop rhythms to D'Yani "Samii" McFadden's plea for empathy. 

Other performers  included Biana Apato, Mary Slattery, Tyrique Carney, Lydia Cook, Lauren Denzman, Janice Fields, Anna Greenys, Kristina Halstead, Taris Kendricks, Christal Luster, Luqman Muhammad, Alasia Ridley, David Santori, Jawhan and Cathleen Stevens. About one-third of the performers were adults.

For the competitive slam, there was a three-way tie between McFadden, Carney and Muhammad for first place, according to Ploum. The three decided to split the $150 purse evenly.

Concessions were available, which also helped bolster the group's finances. TALK is currently raising money to help refurbish an out building at St. Paul Church. The small barn has space the group hopes to convert into a permanent home complete with art studio and meeting space. 

Photos by Eric Crump/HF Chronicle.

TALK crowdfunding campaign

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