Don't miss this opportunity to see Mayda Del Valle perform her slam poetry. Del Valle is a native of Chicago's south side and has been featured in four of the five seasons of the HBO's Def Poetry Jam. Del Valle won the National Poetry Slam in Seattle in 2001 and also the first Latina Individual National Poetry Slam title. Currently, she tours with Def Poetry Jam and legendary director Norman Lear's Declaration of Independence Tour.
For those who've never experienced a slam poet before, this is the chance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19, in the Cellar Pub.
Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Del Valle began performing her own writing while in high school and left the windy city in 1996 to attend Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. She graduated in June of 2000 with a B.A. in studio art.
During her last semester at Williams, Del Valle decided to return to her love of writing and conducted an independent study on spoken word and performance, while also working on a thesis for her studio art major. The two projects began overlapping and informing each other and resulted in two major bodies of work: a series of five short poetry videos, and an hour long one-woman show, “what i is: self-portrait in words.” Self-portrait was a multi-media performance, in which Del Valle used original video, music, visual art, writing. Covering topics such as relationships, identity, and experiences as a minority student at a small liberal art college, Del Valle is now working on editing and updating that piece and hopes to perform it again in the near future.
Relocating to New York in October of 2000, one of Del Valle’s first stops was the Nuyorican Poets Café Wednesday night open slam. Never having performed poetry competitively, Del Valle won four of her first five slams and qualified for the Grand Slam in June. The rest is history. She walked away with the 2001 title, earning her a spot on the 2001 Nuyorican National Slam Team that would go to the National Poetry Slam in Seattle. At Nationals, high scores and placements after two rounds of preliminary bouts left her as the third highest scoring poet out of 250 and meant she was able to compete in the individual semi-final, and went on to qualify for finals as well. At the individual finals, on August 4, 2001, Del Valle wowed audiences in Seattle and walked away with the 2001 National Poetry Slam individual title.
Del Valle draws inspiration for her writing from urban environments like Chicago and New York and growing up in a multi-cultural neighborhood–with Mexican immigrants, Arab-Americans, Black, and Polish people–being Puerto Rican and being a woman, hip-hop culture and Latin jazz, salsa and R&B, among others.