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Poetry Contest for Content, Delivery


Lee Mallory is looking for a few good poets.

But not just poets who can write well: poets with a flair for performing their work on stage.

Fifteen poets will each have five minutes to show their stuff at the Factory's fifth annual Performance Poetry Contest at 8 p.m. Monday at Koo's Art Cafe, 1505 N. Main St., Santa Ana.

"We're the only regularly scheduled, annual performance poetry contest in Southern California," says Mallory, co-producer of the Factory Readings, which sponsors poetry readings at Koo's on the first Monday of each month.

The first 15 poets to sign up Monday night, beginning at 6:30, will be allowed to compete in the judged contest.

The $4 entry fee will go toward a $35 cash prize for the first-place winner, with $20 for second and $10 for third. An additional $35 will be awarded to the poet who receives a first-place ranking in a popular vote by the audience.

Admission is free.

For those familiar with the local poetry scene, Mallory makes a clear distinction:

"We are a contest, not a slam," he says. "A slam is just entertainment, where a person gets up and delivers a monologue. Slams are open-ended and free-flowing and just dramatically based and not poetically based."

"We're calling ours a contest," he says, "because we expect a poet to work off print poetry: poetry deserving of being in a book. It's well-crafted and employs all the techniques of good poetry: strong imagery, rhythm, compression or density of language.

"If it isn't a solid poem worthy of appearing in a book, then don't presume to perform it."

Mallory, who teaches poetry at Rancho Santiago College in Santa Ana, says the poets will be judged on both content and delivery.

With five minutes per poet, he says, "it's a supercharged environment with lots of pressure."

Judging the contest will be Mike Cluff, a poetry professor and creative writing instructor at Riverside City College, and poet Jana, co-founder of the Factory Readings.

Although past contests have attracted "strong poets" from Los Angeles and San Francisco, Mallory says the contest is open to anyone. That includes beginners willing to "put themselves in a sort of trial by fire."

Past local winners include Gary Tomlinson of Orange, Maria Haeri of Orange and Tom Rush, also of Orange.

Mallory says the contest organizers neither screen nor solicit poets for the contest.

"The best are going to come naturally because they want the recognition," he says.

Some say competition has no place in poetry. Mallory disagrees "because we are in a very competitive society, and competition always adds an edge. If poetry doesn't have an edge, it's not poetry.

"The best poetry belongs to the toughest and the most talented, and they will win the performance race."


Book Signings. Jan Norman ("It's Your Business: A Practical Guide to Entrepreneurship") will speak and sign at 7 p.m. Friday at Borders Books and Music, 429 Associated Road, Brea. . . . Sarah Lovett ("Dangerous Attachments") will sign at 11 a.m. Saturday at Coffee, Tea & Mystery, 13232 Springdale St., Westminster. . . . Edward Humes ("No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court") will speak and sign at 1 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble in the Huntington Beach Mall, 7777 Edinger Ave. . . . Former Laguna Beach newspaper columnist John Weld ("Laguna: I Love You") will sign at 11 a.m. Monday in the community room at South Coast Medical Center, 31872 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.


Round Table. T. Jefferson Parker ("The Triggerman's Dance"), Tracey Davis ("Sammy Davis Jr.: My Father"), Charles Hillinger ("Charles Hillinger's America") and Eleanor Vallee ("My Vagabond Lover: An Intimate Biography of Rudy Vallee") will discuss their books at the Round Table West luncheon meeting at noon Aug. 15 at the Balboa Bay Club, 1221 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach. $35. Reservations: (213) 256-7977.

Send information about book-related events to: Books & Authors, Life & Style, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Deadline is one week before Tuesday's publication.

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