One day, Buddy Wakefield read an article in Time magazine about slam poetry and thought he’d like to give it a try. Now, 15 years later, Wakefield has won three spoken word world championships, published three books and been signed to Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe records.
Three years after his first poetry slam in Seattle, Wakefield embarked on life as a touring spoken word artist, or — as he calls it — “living for a living.” And, lucky for Juneau ears, he’ll be visiting the capital city for a pair of performances.
This Saturday, Wakefield will perform his one-man show, “Riled up and Wasted on Light,” at the Hangar Ballroom.
The show is “part stand-up, part storytelling, part poetry,” Wakefield said. “I’ll bring the laughs, charge some hearts, throw some cards on the table and talk about what’s going on on a number of levels.”
Wakefield’s visit to Juneau has come about largely thanks to friends of his who live in town, including educator, actor and director Shona Strauser.
“It doesn’t matter if you like poetry or not,” Strauser said. “He’s a performer’s performer. His words are beautiful.”
Strauser, who met Wakefield in the theater community when they were both students in Huntsville, Texas, has watched him evolve as an artist. His attitude, she said, is one of “all feet forward. All in. That kind of intensity is what he brings to stage.”
Although he hasn’t regularly slammed competitively since 2008, Wakefield sometimes stops by poetry slams on tour. While in Juneau, he’ll also perform a set at the Woosh Kinaadeiyí open mic and poetry slam Friday at the Silverbow Bakery.
Juneau spoken word artist Christy NaMee Eriksen, who founded Woosh Kinaadeiyí in 2010 with Nahaan, is thrilled to have Wakefield perform in Juneau.
“We’re completely honored to even have this opportunity,” Eriksen said. “He could just come up and do a show but he’s also coming to the slam and participating as a community member… It’s not just about performing, it’s about being part of a community of listeners. He’s being a part of the community for the night.”
Asked about advice he’d give newer spoken word artists, Wakefield recommended, “Don’t fake cry. Stop fake crying. … And edit a lot.”
Buddy Wakefield will perform his 21-and-over show, “Riled up and Wasted on Light,” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 in the Hangar Ballroom. Tickets are $10 at the door or in advance at the JACC and online at http://jahc.org. Learn more about Wakefield at http://buddywakefield.com.
Wakefield will perform a 15-minute set at the Woosh Kinaadeiyí poetry slam and open mic on Friday, Jan. 24 at Silverbow Bakery. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and admission is pay-as-you-can. Those interested in competing should arrive at 6 p.m. to sign up. All are welcome to compete; the event stresses inclusiveness and accessibility. Learn more about Woosh Kinaadeiyí at www.wooshkinaadeiyi.com.