Bards & Brews to Close Out 2015 Eat Drink Read Write Festival on Friday, October 9

The Birmingham Public Library’s popular Bards & Brews spoken word poetry and craft beer tasting event will close the four-day Eat Drink Read Write festival at the Central Library Friday, October 9.

Doors open at 6:15 p.m., and poets wanting to participate can sign up beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Poetry Slam will begin at 7:00 p.m. Beer will be donated from a number of local breweries, including Cahaba Brewing, Good People Brewing, and Avondale Brewing. Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins, a performance artist and experienced poetry slam emcee, will host the free evening event.

Poets will compete in a slam for $500 in cash prizes while attendees sample beer, coffee, tea, and snacks. Poems for the first round of the slam must be about food, eating or drinking, said Brandon C. Smith, manager of the Eastwood Branch Library and Coordinator of the 2015 festival.

“This event will be a great way to celebrate our food and culture in Birmingham,” Smith said. “I am pleased that we will be able to close out Eat Drink Read Write with our popular Bards & Brews poetry slam. This will be a great way for people to come together, visit the library, and learn more about the great restaurants and breweries we have here in Birmingham.”

Bards & Brews is the inspiration of Haruyo Miyagawa, head of the Arts, Literature and Sports Department at the Central Library. October celebrates the fifth anniversary of the event.
“I was thinking that an event like this was a good way to bring more young people to the library,” Miyagawa said. “At the time, craft beer was just getting popular in Birmingham, and I felt it would be a good fit with spoken word poetry. It has really taken off over the years, and we have seen a really diverse crowd. We have some people who come for the poetry, others come to enjoy the craft beer.”

Spoken word poetry slams have been popular across the country. The movie Love Jones and Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jams have introduced poetry slams to a younger generation.

Miyagawa also inspired the Eat Drink Read Write festival. In 2011, she and food blogger Shaun Chavis put their heads together to create a cultural event that highlights Birmingham’s growing notoriety as a dining destination, and raise awareness of food-related issues. This year’s Eat Drink Read Write festival, set up like a four-course meal, began with Tuesday’s Appetizer “Human Library” event and concludes with the “After Dinner Drinks”-style Bards & Brews event this Friday.

The Eat Drink Read Write festival was made possible by contributions from main sponsors InSinkErator, the Protective Life Foundation, and the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals. Other sponsors are Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, Avondale Brewing Co., Friends of the Birmingham Public Library, Good People Brewing Co., Hotbox at Parkside, Lawson State Community College, Vizzini Farms Winery, What to Eat in Birmingham, and Alabama State Council on the Arts.

Bards & Brews is a spoken word poetry performance/beer tasting event hosted by the Birmingham Public Library usually held on the first Friday of each month except December. Slams are held quarterly in January, April, July, and October; the other sessions are open mic. Live musical performances are held before the poetry performances begin. The staff from J. Clyde bar in Birmingham usually pours for the evening. You must be 18 or over to attend, and 21 or over to drink. Bring your ID. Come early, as these events are well attended.

Bards & Brews is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with The J. Clyde. After this Friday’s Poetry Slam to close out the Eat Drink Read Write festival, there is one more Bards & Brews event left for 2015. On Friday, November 6, the Central Library will host an Open Mic Bards & Brews event. More details will be released later.