RING RING POEM NINE, Schmitt Music Mural, Minneapolis, MN; May 31-June 3

Schmitt Music Mural, on Marquette Avenue between 9th and 10th Street, Minneapolis, MN

Lost Poem SamSam Cook was one of my first favorite slam poets. When I first saw him, he’d recently moved to Minneapolis from Colorado, and I didn’t realize I was attending my first poetry slam. Sam is an incredible writer, a dynamic performer, and puts a lot of time and effort into supporting the local slam scene. Sam runs the Saint Paul Soapboxing poetry slam.

Sam, a National Poetry Slam Champion, received a B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. He is the founder of Button Poetry, which co-produced and cast the Poetry Observed video series. He currently works performing and teaching poetry in middle schools, high school, and colleges around the country. In addition to competing in and coaching adult-level slam at Soap Boxing, Sam is also highly involved with collegiate slam in the Twin Cities. Sam founded the University of Minnesota slam program in 2009, which he then coached to College Nationals (CUPSI) finals stage in 2010 and 2011. Sam now coaches for Macalester College, which took 2nd place at the same tournament in 2012.

Sam’s poem takes place at the Schmitt Music Mural on Marquette. “Like other American cities of the 1970s, citizens and business owners in Minneapolis were concerned about beautifying the older downtown buildings. Schmitt hired the repair of the old bricks and bricked up 32 exterior windows. He asked a company employee to choose notes from a musical score that could be painted as a mural over the enormous facade. The employee searched through the store’s sheet music and came up with the most graphically attractive piece of music she could find, Maurice Ravel’s “Gaspard de la Nuit.” Pianist Van Cliburn posed playing a Steinway concert grand piano in front of the mural for a now famous photograph, which attracted the attention of national newspapers.” “The concert this piece is from, has three parts, that were based on poems, the bits on the wall belonging to the third movement, called Scarbo, about small vision of the devil. The music on the wall is said to be scattered with jokes for musicians.” The are rumored to be sections out of order. Phone 612 223-POEM to hear Sam’s poem.

RING RING POEM EIGHT, 24th and Dupont Ave S, Minneapolis, MN; May 28-31

24th and Dupont Ave S, Minneapolis, MN

Misty Rowan speaks faster than most humans I know, and is one of two poets I know whose main reason for writing is to educate on social issues. I liked her style immediately, because it was not like anyone’s I knew, and it had an unrestrained ferocity that a lot of Minnesotan poets lacked. As I’ve gotten to know Misty better, I’ve found that she is also ferociously kind.

I enjoy the piece she’s done for Ring Ring Poetry because it is yet another part of her, a little softer, more sentimental. And because this is my neighborhood, too. Call 612 223-POEM, and check out Misty’s post about her experience with this project.

Lost Poem Misty

RING RING POEM SEVEN, Pioneers & Soldiers Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN; May 24-27

Wood and StonePioneers and Soldiers Cemetery, 2945 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, MN

I wrote two poems for Pioneers and Soldiers, and will probably write more, but this is the one I’m publishing in Ring Ring Poetry. The other poem was full of references to specific graves, the surrounding sounds and sights, but ultimately this is the poem I felt like was more ready and was more right.

A year and a half ago, my last remaining grandparent died, and this past autumn, a very close friend of mine passed away very unexpectedly, very young. It has made me very aware of mortality, very conscious of the failings of memory, of the shortness of humanity in the history of the universe, how quickly we disappear from that human history, and how lucky we are to just be here.

from today’s poem, available at 612 223-POEM:

We are each of us guttering flames, young tomatoes,
electrical circuits worn in one another’s minds.
We are lucky chances, we are won lotteries already,
to have made it this long, this far.


RING RING POEM SIX, Mounds Park, Saint Paul, MN; May 21-23

Mounds Park, 10 Mounds Blvd, Saint Paul, MN

Lost Poem AdamI’ve known Adam (See More Perspective) for a handful of years now, and it’s jaw-dropping how his creative work is deepening, crystalizing the expressions of his spirituality into something that is really tangible and relatable. I was really interested in having Adam’s voice involved in the project, seeing how he tackled the project, and was really impressed. Adam’s piece is worth experiencing in Mounds Park- the interaction is beautifully done and a lovely way to allow audiences to really  immerse and involve themselves in the poem. Even if you’re unable to visit Mounds Park, read up a little about it here and then call 612-223-POEM. -Cole

I’ve recently been announced as a semifinalist for the Forever Saint Paul Challenge for the “one million dollar idea” (!!!). I love Saint Paul (That doesn’t mean I don’t love Minneapolis, if you were wondering. The cities are twins and are bound together in time and fate). My idea has to do with art monuments that exemplify our rich cultural histories and how they’ve intertwined with what might sometimes seem like unlikely strands. The project would start by collecting oral histories of neighborhoods all around the city, going as far back into the story of the land and people as possible and finally, erecting a piece of art in a central location with that story and potentially some additional digital “extras”.

In a way, this poem begins that sort of thinking about a place. All that history, all those families and communities, are right here. History is not as far as it seems. It’s ubiquitous and vast of course, but it’s all right here. Right now. We cannot be separated from those that have come before us. Many that have come before us still live in homes we did not make for ourselves. My Saint Paul Challenge idea is about ownership, identity and perspective. I like to think this poem has something to offer in regards to those things.

There’s not a lot I can say about this poem that isn’t already in it, but there might be a few things not explicitly stated. When project designer/mastermind Cole asked me to contribute (and where I might write a poem from), I knew it was Mounds. Everything in that introduction is true. The gas station sandwiches, the dates and thunderstorms, BBQs, and all the rest. I’ve known this place for a long time. When I decided where to write about, I knew I had to dig. I couldn’t just write a piece about “how pretty it is” or how “it’s a special place for me”. I needed to mine every ounce of honesty that I could about this place. It goes in a lot of directions from there, but the rest is in the poem.

Speaking of how much I love Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Minnesota over all, Today also marks the day of another new release. I’m right in the middle of releasing a new series of EPs that represent each of our four seasons. It started last year with ‘FALL FORWARD’, continued with ‘BRAIN FREEZE’ and is picking back up now with ‘FOOD FOR THAW’, which is being self released today, for free at www.seemoreperspective.com. Also be sure to check out “The Cosmos According to Your Closed Eyes”, a new full length album of spoken word poetry and music, coming out in September (and available for presale from me in person!)

RING RING POEM FIVE, 3350 North 4th Street, Minneapolis, MN; May 17-20

GuanteCity View School, at 3350 North 4th Street

Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre’s poetry almost always invokes social justice and being present and honest with oneself. When I invited him to take part in the project, he offered this piece, which recorded at a live performance in front of an audience, rather than recorded in the studio with the other artists. I had some hesitation, but upon hearing the piece and reading the blog post he wrote about it, I knew I wanted this to be part of the project. – Cole

Phone 612 223-POEM to hear “It is Cold Here, But It is Also Hot” by Guante.


Guante is a hip hop artist, two-time National Poetry Slam champion, activist and educator. Check out more of his work at www.guante.info, and follow him on Twitter @elguante.

Lightsey Darst is the Voice in Your Head

Pleased to be able to share with you a post by Lightsey Darst about her Ring Ring Poetry piece. Phone 612 223-POEM to hear her poem. -Cole

I don’t have a great voice. Like a lot of people, I don’t relish listening to recordings of myself, and I imagine you have to if you’re going to become a recording artist—which many poets are. Spoken word artists, yes, but many other poets have had recording careers—Dylan Thomas, for example.

Further back, I think how poet and bard were more or less the same thing in many cultures. I’m not saying this because I think poets need to get back to their roots. Modern poetry has a lot of roots, including philosophy, journalism, cartography, and graphic design; “poetry” is a name for a cloud, a thing that moves, that can’t be sharply delimited.

Normally, voice is not the primary medium for my work. I write for the page—the page and the voice in your head, not my voice. When I read in public, I try to engage some other elements (costume, choreography, visual art) so that it’s a performance, something different than the poem on the page, not just an inferior version of it.

Here, though, I didn’t have anything but my voice, which was an interesting challenge. This poem does not have a visual form; the paper version is a script, and I won’t be reprinting it, unless it’s for someone else to read from.

So I stood at Lake of the Isles (okay, parked: it was cold) and thought a lot about what people need to hear—not what I need to say or think people should hear, but what people need. I found my way to some things that I felt could work for a lot of listeners, and then I tried to read like someone you know.

One advantage of my voice—at least for this project—is that it tends to remind people of other people they know. My voice used to be interchangeable with my mother’s. Her friends, even her brother would just start talking to me on the phone, assuming I was her. Even my brother once said, after I picked up, “Which one of you is this?”