A visiting slam poet from New Mexico will headline a literary event in Highland.
Champion slam poet Gigi Bella and local poets will perform at 6 p.m. Sunday at One Best Life at Tinkers Attic at 2513 Highway Ave. in downtown Highland.
Organizer Lily Rex, a former poet laureate of the town of Highland, met Bella at the 2019 Individual World Poetry Slam in San Diego.
"When I heard she was coming to the Midwest, I had to snap her up for a NWI show," she said. "People know me as a poet, but my songwriting and guitar obsession actually predate the poetry in my creative timeline. One has always informed the other, and I've gotten back into music in a big way as a coping mechanism during the pandemic. I believe in music as a healing force and a force of redemption, and Gigi is one of those unique artists combining my two loves, incorporating music into poetry in a really cool way."
People are also reading…
Bella and her partner Tito Dameron will headline the event.
Other performers include Rex, the poet and rapper Eric "Rota" Sirota of Chicago, and a surprise performer.
"You scarcely meet someone who can't vibe with some kind of music. Gigi's work can build connections with those who might not otherwise engage with poetry or think of themselves as literary types," Rex said. "I'm all about upending people's expectations about poetry. A lot of us are exposed to it in small doses of the classics in school, but there's a poem out there for everyone if you only take the time to find it."
The "Too Hot for Genre" reading is a stop on Bella's book tour.
"My work is a Mexican Catholic prayer meets 'Primadonna' by Marina and the Diamonds. I discuss, in large part, my Mexican identity, mental illness, and everything sparkle and bright and feminine about me. It is my aim to be unapologetic, neon plus unforgettable," she said. "My influences stem from early spoken word juggernauts like Sarah Kay, Franny Choi and Andrea Gibson (after 11 years as a spoken word artist, I've had the good fortune to open for Andrea twice. Andrea was even kind enough to blurb my book, Big Feelings.) I am also highly influenced by popular culture and, as I continue to create, more academic/page poetry. My writing is rooted in musical theater story songs, an Ada Límon poem about carrots, an Olivia Rodrigo music video. I take inspiration from all of the things I can most easily pick even more poetry out of."
She is touring in support of her book "Big Feelings," which is available at gameoverbooks.com and will be sold at the event.
"My live performances take heavy inspiration from musical theater cabaret and function as a fluid movement between story and song," she said. "I perform original poetry as well as original music. The colorful, spunk sparkle outfits are a big part of it too."
She's already working on her new book.
"Right now, I am working on the beginnings of a new book about my Mexican lineage and the women in my family," Bella said. "I received a grant to write a first draft and I am currently gathering up as many stories as I can and learning so much about my family. It's truly so enriching and informs so much of what I know about myself. I am also the lead singer/songwriter of my band, Uno Bueno, and I plan to work toward recording our original songs in the near future. Also, working on earning enough money to buy tiny future for my cats, Ducky and Frankie, to sit on so I can take photos where they look like giants."
Tickets are $10. Food will be available for purchase from the Hasta la Vista restaurant. People should bring cash if they are considering buying books or other merchandise from the artists.