GuerrillaReads No. 103: Public Comment Poetry

At a recent public meeting of the Los Angeles City Council Arts, Parks, and River Committee, a members of the Melrose Poetry Bureau delivered their public comment guerrilla reads style. No ordinary bureau-cats, these poets talked about the importance of the arts to their communities and their lives. They urged LA City Council to invest in the arts as an investment in the people of Los Angeles.

City officials are strict about time limits on public comment – watching the seconds count down while the poets do their magic adds a layer of tension and suspense to this video – but they all hit their marks and took a well-deserved bow at the buzzer.

Several of the Melrose Poets reprised their performances a few weeks later before the LA County Board of Supervisors when they discussed a motion related to the Arts Commission’s Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, where I saw them live and in person. Jonathan Rios’ poem about growing up homeless and finding his voice through writing was a compelling moment in a day of heartfelt testimony to the power of art to transform lives.

The Melrose Poetry Bureau is the brainchild of Brian Sonia-Wallace (alias the Rent Poet).

If 2017 has you paying more attention to the intricacies of government structures and electoral politics than you ever thought you might, consider adding a dose of poetry.

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