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Performance Poets Will Vie for Slam Title


The Laguna Beach Poetry Slam Finals have been likened to a boxing match, the final bout in which Orange County's top performance poets "duke it out" in a three-round competition.

The Poetry Slam Finals, which conclude Orange County's poetry slam season, will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the FACT Gallery, 30812 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

To the uninitiated, a poetry slam is a performance poetry competition in which poets are judged by five random audience members on an Olympic-style rating of 0.0 to 10.0. The poets are limited to three minutes per poem, each of which must be an original work.

Ten winning poets who competed at one of five previous slams held at the Laguna Beach Brewing Co. in recent months will compete Friday night. They are: Buzzy Ennis, John Gardiner, Natalie Giacone, J.D. Glasscock, Clay Leeds, Mindy Nettifee, Paul Suntup, Chris Tannahill, Lizzie Wann and David Watson.

The four winners (and one alternate) will represent Orange County at the National Poetry Slam Finals in Chicago in August.

"It's really the World Series of performance poetry," said Costa Mesa poet Victor Infante, a member of the 1998 team--Orange County's first--which competed at the nationals in Austin, Texas. (The team placed 17th out of 45, and team member Derrick Brown placed second individually.)

Infante, who is helping to organize the Laguna finals and will coach the 1999 team, said a crowd of 150 turned out for the Poetry Slam Finals in Laguna last year, making it Orange County's largest poetry event of the year.

Organizers hope to top that number Friday night: The team could use the money.

"Chicago's proving to be expensive; it's hard to send a team there," said Infante.

The $5 admission on Friday, along with donations from audience members generated throughout the season, will help pay the $4,000 cost for air fare and hotel accommodations in Chicago.

The tab to send the team to Texas last year was only $2,000, some $1,700 of which came from donations.

"Last year, it was an easy drive to Austin," said Infante. "But I've driven to Chicago, and I don't know if I can put them through that."

Infante, a 27-year-old freelance writer, said about half of the competing finalists are "very young and just out of college, or still in school in a couple of cases."

He's hoping the full amount is raised to fly the five team members to Chicago.

"If worse comes to worst, it comes out of our pockets," he said.

For more information about the slam finals, call (949) 499-8300.

Also Coming Up

* Margaret Burk and Marilyn Hudson, whose Round Table West literary luncheons have been a monthly staple at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach for a decade, have been pursuing bestselling author Dean Koontz as a guest for years. They've finally nabbed him. The Newport Beach writer will discuss his latest suspense novel, "Seize the Night," at noon Thursday at the Balboa Bay Club, 1221 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach. Joining Koontz is another well-known Orange County author, T. Jefferson Parker, who will discuss his new Orange County-set thriller, "The Blue Hour." Tickets; $40. For reservations, call (323) 256-7977.

* Barbara DeMarco Barrett will interview playwright John Glore at 6 p.m. today on KUCI (88.8 FM) in Irvine. Glore's new romantic comedy, "On the Jump," is being performed on South Coast Repertory Theater's Mainstage in Costa Mesa.

* Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura will sign copies of his new book, "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed" at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda. Only those books purchased at the library will be signed. Ventura's 11 a.m. lecture is sold out.

* Alexander Avila will discuss and sign "Love Types: Discover Your Romantic Style and Find Your Soul Mate" at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Barnes & Noble in Metro Pointe, 901 S. Coast Drive, Costa Mesa.

* Terry Brooks, author of "Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace"--a book based on the story and screenplay by George Lucas--will sign at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble in the Huntington Beach Mall, 7777 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach.

* Poet Robert Roden will read at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Gypsy Den Cafe and Reading Room in the Lab, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa.

* Reservations are being taken for an author luncheon featuring mystery writers Martha C. Lawrence ("Murder in Scorpio") and Alan Russell ("No Sign of Murder") at the Friends of the Huntington Beach Library meeting June 11. Tickets: $15. For reservations, call (714) 842-4481, Ext. 7.

Send information about book-related events at least 10 days before event to: Dennis McLellan, O.C. Books & Authors, Southern California Living, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail to

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