Thursday, September 16, 2010


Can words change the world? Austin "Mountain" Alexander, and the rest of the Maui's burgeoning slam-poetry scene, aim to find out
by Sara Tekula


A hidden stairwell sneaks up from behind the back area of Milagros Restaurant in Paia, into a tattoo shop upstairs. It's a large parlor complete with art gallery and loads of space to roam. During the day, when the place is open for regular business, I imagine it feels spacious and airy, beautiful even. On this particular Thursday evening in late August, however, the space is packed with people of all ages, colors and walks of life—literally standing elbow to elbow—rubbing together their assorted Afros, dreadlocks, spikes, tattoos, gray hairs and hippie attire.

For a Maui event, this is about as diverse as it gets. And the diversity goes hand-in-hand with the type of event it is—a "poetry slam," where brave performance poets sign up to showcase their flair for the written and spoken word, while randomly selected members of the audience serve as judges. Due in part to this democratic creative forum, every slam I've ever attended has been incredibly colorful.

At about 10:30pm, an exceptionally tall, tattooed, pierced, and suspender-clad man named Mountain rises to the podium and sheepishly faces the audience. A shock of jet-black hair dances above his head. His body language displays a nervousness, an excitement that is palpable. With a deep breath, he begins to spit out one hypnotic, self-indulgent fiery phrase after another, breathing potent metaphors into verbal acrobatics, like a floor gymnast flipping to his grand finale—only with a lot more hip-hop swagger and much, much baggier pants.CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT THIS ARTICLE FROM MAUI TIME