20th Anniversary Slam

This year marks the milestone 20th Anniversary of the Library’s monthly Poetry Slam and to celebrate, the Library will host a special event in April.

The Library invites the community to celebrate the Poetry Slam’s 20th Anniversary this National Poetry Month on Wednesday, April 3rd, from 6:00–9:00 p.m. with refreshments, featured performances from Rebecca P. Bruckenstein and Nina Belen Robins, and a Poetry Slam.

Registration for those who wish to perform in the Slam start at 6:00 p.m. in the Museum Gallery. At 6:30 p.m. in the Auditorium, the two featured poets will perform, and the Slam will start shortly after 7:00 p.m.

In 2004, Slam Poet Eric “ZORK” Alan began co-hosting the White Plains Public Library’s first Wednesday Poetry Slam & Open Mic with Librarian Barbara Wenglin. Over the years, various librarians have co-hosted with Zork, but he’s been a constant throughout its twenty years, shaping it into a welcoming, fun, and cathartic experience for both the performers and its audience.

Prior to March 2020, in addition to the Slam & Open Mic for community members, the monthly event also highlighted Slam poets from around the country (and continent) who participated in the National Poetry Slam and/or who contribute to their own local Poetry Slams. Over the years, nearly 300 poets have been featured.

In 2020, after the Library temporarily closed the building to the public, Zork began editing archival footage he recorded at the Poetry Slam over the years in order to publish a Poem a Day on YouTube, which included performances from featured poets, and Slam performances. Later in 2020, the Slam moved to Zoom, where the event has taken an even more personal approach with poets performing their work and then discussing their writing process or what Zork calls the “inception” of the poem.

“The Poetry Slam connects residents and visitors to the most ancient form of human literature. The art of writing and hearing poetry can restore a general sense of well-being,” said City of White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach. “I am very proud of the variety of programs and events offered by the White Plains Library and congratulate the Library on the 20th Anniversary of Poetry Slam.”

Zork and his current co-host, Marketing Librarian Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno, are excited for the Poetry Slam to be back in-person for its Anniversary, and hope that faces old and new will join them in celebrating.

Eric ZORK Alan, a 11x National Slam Poet competitor, is probably best known for standing on chairs. He is also known for gratuitously dropping names… like that he is the only poet ever to have his book [appropriately called “I am NOT a poet”] blurbed by Davy Jones, Dobie Gray & Wild Cherry. Zork has Featured at the hottest poetry venues in America including Chicago’s legendary Green Mill where slam started. He has toured across America visiting High Schools and colleges in his mission to make more poets. He has produced and been featured in a series of “PG Safe Slam” DVDs from the National Poetry Slam to help get Slam poetry into the schools in an educational friendly and appropriate manner. He also performs at and hosts ZorkSlams [student based events] at Barnes & Noble Bookstores Nationwide. He hosts Westchester County, NY's largest poetry series and slammaster for the PSI Westchester Slam series at the White Plains Public Library.
Rebecca P. Bruckenstein is a poet, theater artist, and creative writer who was born in Brooklyn, NY, currently living in Westchester County, NY. She attended SUNY Purchase College and the University of Bridgeport. She loves blending together the creative arts with social justice and commentary on the world we live in. During the day, she spends her time supporting others as they pursue their higher education and by night she can be found creating art, consuming art, or typing away at her laptop.  Find her online @findingpoetryfindingme
Nina Belen Robins is a three-time national slam poet and author of six books of poetry. She was a finalist for Poet Laureate of Westchester in 2023. She spent much of her life in various institutions and has finally broken free and lives with her husband and cats and works in the bakery department of a supermarket. She writes whenever possible and wants to normalize and destigmatize mental illness as best she can. Author of “supermarket diaries” “a bed with my name on it” “t. gondii” “warm blooded tree”, “ode to dymphna” and forthcoming “saturday morning serotonin” Find here online at Ninabelenrobins.com
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