Poetry and spoken word are long-standing artistic traditions in and around the District. Through the years, D.C. has witnessed some of the best poetry slams, poetry competitions and poetic collaborations in the country. An ever-diversifying field, poetry continues to flourish in the greater Washington, D.C. area. This list recognizes some of the most established, well accomplished and up-and-coming poets in Washington, D.C.
Poet 2Deep performs her own poetry, creates commissioned works and is even a motivational speaker. She has performed at Ottawa University in Canada, Cornell University and even opened for the now deceased great American jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron in 2009. She regularly performs at all the Busboys and Poets locations, and has won awards for her poetry performances there. She has recently published a book, “Spoken Heard,” which is available for purchase.
Angelique Palmer has performed throughout the region and has hosted poetry nights at Busboys and Poets. An author of four chapter books with two recorded poetry CDs, she is quite the accomplished poet. For nearly three years, Palmer has hosted Silent Treatment Entertainment’s weekly open-mic night, “Spirits and Lyrics” in Manassas, VA. She won the local Beltway Poetry Slam’s 2011 Newbie Slam Championship, and she continues to compete nationally and locally. Most recently she made it to the Final Stage at Slam Richmond for the second season in a row.
Bomani D. Armah
Bomani D. Armah is the Director of Poetry Events at Busboys and Poets. As an artist, producer, “creative concierge” and “edutainer,” he is most known for his Internet smash hit “Read a Book” which received equal doses of critical acclaim and controversial backlash. His 2008 release, “Radio Friendly,” blends his fluid and funky production style with his poetically insightful yet accessible lyrics. He names a wide range of influences from Lil’ Wayne to Langston Hughes. Though he uses a hip-hop style and influences, he clearly self-identifies as “not a rapper,” suggesting that poetry, not music, is his real passion.
Related: Best Poetry Slams in The DC Area
Eric “E-Baby” Smith
Eric “E-Baby” Smith is a successful local poet who has been working in the area since 2000 and has released two albums. He wrote a piece in July 2000 with 95.5 WPGC’s Thursday Night Love Talk & Poetry Café. Since then, he’s had the extremely honorable opportunity to open for such R&B artists as BET award-winner Musiq Soul Child, locally raised 10-time Grammy nominee Me’shell Ndegeocello and Tony and Grammy award-winner Heather Headley. He is a poet in his own right, an instructor at over 200 U.S. colleges and a poetry show host. He frequently competes throughout the Mid-Atlantic region in various poetry and slam competitions. Most recently, in 2011 he received a nomination as Male Spokenword Performance Artist of the Year from The National Underground Spokenword Poetry Association.
Henry Mills is a University of Maryland graduate beginning his career as a professional poet. He is only 23 years old, but has great ambition to make a splash in the local poetry scene. From Silver Spring, MD, he is of Salvadoran-Jewish heritage, which culturally diversifies him from the largely African American-dominant D.C. poetry scene. His poetry is largely bilingual in Spanish and English. He opened for the legendary Latin-American folk group Los Guaraguao on its debut tour in the U.S. Fans of poetry should keep an eye on this talented up and comer.
Related: Best Poetry Events In Washington DC
Kayleigh Bryant is a D.C. native, traveler, foodie, artist and frequent museum visitor. Her lifelong fascination with art has moved her to explore the themes, techniques and media artists have employed to express their ideas. Kayleigh has earned a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.