The SAME BOAT POETRY SLAM
- Baltimore Edition-
January 16th, 2011
"We may have all come in different ships, but we are in the same boat now." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Tonight we gather to share poetry, stories and pieces of each other. To talk, to laugh and to build the Beloved Community." -Anne Kotleba, emcee
Dr. King built his organizing philosophy on the creation of the beloved community, the solidarity of the human family. He said, "We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.
Human beings are dependent on each other."
On a very personal level, January 16th is a historically important day for my family. It serves as the anniversary of the passing of my father, Joseph Kotleba, and my aunt, Sue Kotleba. As of this year, the date now commemorates one year of my mother, Jan Kotleba's, victory over breast cancer. I have begun to see this date, and this time of year, as a rebirth and reflection of what is important in my life. A time to honor the legacy of my amazing and inspiring family and those who have supported me all these years. It is very fitting that this year's Same Boat Event fell on January 16th.
The Same Boat Event found it's beginnings three years ago, when it grew out of conversations with one of my best friends, Caitlin Brooking. Through the catalyst of Caitlin's dedication to community service and socially conscious activism - as well as love for slam poetry and Dr. King - I became very motivated to gather the people, engage in dialogue and HAVE FUN! The original Same Boat Event was held in PJ's coffeehouse in Biloxi, Mississippi with 75 in attendance. It was a beautiful experience. Friends were made, relationships rekindled and some unbelievable talent was shared. The poetry slam, in my mind, began to create the beloved community Dr. King's philosophy was built upon. The enthusiasm from the event carried us into the next year with a harmonious synergy. Though Caitlin had since moved up to Jackson, MS, she returned to the Coast to celebrate MLK Day with us.
The Second Annual Same Boat Event was held in Ocean Springs, Mississippi in 2010 at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center. The phenomenal poet Jesse Huynh helped organize and emcee the event. Highlights included the highly talented, Nita Chase and Carmetha Ashley as well as many aspiring iPhone readers and open mic-ers. Caitlin charged the room, asking for donations for Hands On Disaster Response working in Haiti. The community responded, raising over $150 straight out of their pockets.
Upon moving to Baltimore, I was hoping for an opportunity to continue this tradition of gathering and sharing. With the opening of MICA PLACE, the creation of the Youth Arts Leadership group, new partnerships with Banner Neighborhoods, Rose Street Community Center and many, many more folks in East Baltimore, the time seemed right for The Same Boat Poetry Slam - Baltimore Edition.
Held in the MICA PLACE gallery, our goal was to open the doors and see what would happen. The results were incredible! The Banner Neighborhoods Cooking Club, a group of 10, 9-13 year old girls, helped provide food, preparing black eyed peas, corn bread muffins (one of Dr. King's favorites) and potato salad. Danisha Harris, Devon Scarborough and Maurice Aye electrified the room with their words and the space was brought to life. Ladies from the House of Ruth, Maryland, domestic violence shelter, were in attendance via the technological assistance of Skype. It was truly a gathering that Dr. King would have been pleased with and I look forward to future opportunities to fill MICA PLACE with such a beautiful energy as we continue to build the beloved community.... and maybe a Same Boat part four???