Akron Soul Train will host an open mic, featuring poet Damien McClendon, Saturday, Feb. 22, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Akron Soul Train gallery, 191 King James Way, in downtown Akron.
McClendon is a Kent State alum and award-winning Cleveland-based poet. He was a semi-finalist in three consecutive National Poetry Slams and placed 7th in the World Slam.
McClendon was awarded an Akron Soul Train residency and begins the 2020 season writing and revising poems that examine racism, poverty, masculinity and fatherhood.
“My work seeks to create confrontations with power,” he said. “Using narrative, creativity and compelling performance to call out systems of oppression, to reach back and remember the lessons of my ancestors, and to answer the questions I struggle with as a poor, black father. My work explores the penalty and privilege in being a black male and the transformation of my ideas of masculinity and Blackness.”
As part of an Akron Soul Train residency, artists are asked to develop a community engagement component. AST teamed up with the creatives at Vibe Collective for a professional development writing workshop offered by McClendon with prompts such as: childhood, parenthood, family or chosen family. Workshop participants, as well as the public, are invited to share their pieces at the open mic.