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Seeing Eye Bird Showcase, Sierra Demulder and the Silicon Valley gets poetic

24 May

If you’ve never been in the Barefoot Coffee Roaster in Santa Clara, which I totally doubt you have, let me assure you that you would never see it from the street. It’s in a little strip mall on the corner of Cabot and Steven’s Creek with pink walls, a bunch of empty shops and a freight tool store. If by some miracle you happened upon it then you would probably think of it as your average local coffee shop. The kind of place where hippies, hipsters and punk kids can converge and enjoy a steaming hot beverage. The cashier has flamingo pink hair, as do at least two of her customers. More then 40% of the shop has some kind of piercing or tattoo and just about everyone is wearing skinny jeans. It’s the sort of place you might expect an artsy fartsy abstract hipster poetry reading might happen. But that is not what the debut event of the Seeing Eye Bird Showcase is all about.

The MCs and creators of the event, Mike McGee and David Perez, start the evening off with a simple introduction of where they hope this project will go. They are tired of the Silicon Valley being considered an artistic wasteland and they are hoping to change that with this series and if tonight was any indication, they are going to do it. The boys introduce the first performer of the evening was Kim Johnson, a local slam poet who is infamous as a Slam Champion and San Jose Slam supporter. Kim comes to the mic a little nervous, she looks like one of those girls who isn’t used to having all eyes on her. She wears a simple sweatshirt that reads “Living Legend” and jeans. She smiles and the confidence radiates.

Kim’s first poem is about writers block and she begins with a blast, showing the passion that she has for the written word and the reverence for the struggle of being a poet. She is quiet but passionate reciting poems that stick to your gut with a confidence and grace that is unbelievable. When she chitchats with audience, you feel compelled to reply. She ends her set with a poem about a friend who committed suicide and I won’t lie, I felt teary. The poem was beautiful and if you ask me, she did her friend so much justice.

After Kim’s wonderful reading, Kristen Gradwohl took the stage and sang a few songs with her ukulele. Kristen is the sort of girl you would expect to find in a coffee shop like this one, small, dark haired and with a bohemian flavor to her style. Her singing voice is sweet and her tone extremely folksy. Her original songs remind me of Nellie McKay, who is a wonderful interesting singer you should check out as well. Her sweet voice is the sort that you want to listen to as you ride your bike in the afternoon sun, even though the content isn’t always as sweet. One of her songs is about being a stalker and the possibility of killing the girlfriend of the person she stalking. If you get the chance, I would check her out.

Finally, we came to the feature, Sierra Demulder. Let me say that my opinion is entirely biased. I’ve been following Sierra since my junior year of college where I first encountered her at the Artists Quarter at a Saint Paul Slam. For me, she is one of the most original, driven, spunky individuals I have ever had the chance of hearing read and tonight is no exception. Sierra is a tiny girl, maybe five feet, and she is charming. She says her s’s strangely, in an endearing lovely sort of way, plays with her new suspenders and she quakes with passion. She’s also a two time Slam Champion in case you wondered. She performed, and that’s the word for it, several poems and each of them is a passionate, feminist cry and almost a call to action. She begins with a poem about how a woman does not lose her self when she is raped or sexually assaulted. She immediately followed this by a poem about her sentiments on Pro-Ana websites and a response to Katy Perry’s song  “Your So Gay”. She ended her set with a poem about being in love with her best friend and its not being reciprocated.

The evening was amazing and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to hear these poets. I was beginning to think that the Peninsula and South bay were devoid of poetry. I am so glad to be proven wrong. I can’t wait to see what the Seeing Eye Bird Showcase will have next.