Daemond Arrindell

Nominated by Seattle Poetry Slam

Daemond Arrindell is the curator of the Seattle Poetry Slam, five-time coach of the nationally-ranked Seattle National Poetry Slam Team, a mentor for Youth Speaks and a faculty member at Freehold Theatre. He is motivated by the ability of the art form of spoken word to alter the emotional state of listeners. This fall he will head up his second residency at Men’s prison in Monroe and join the Writers in the Schools program as a new writer-in-residence. Daemond sees poetry as a grand tree with a vast array of branches all contributing to the complexity of the art form.

Seattle Poetry Slam hosts a weekly open mic, featured poet and performance poetry competition. Poets compete for chances to represent Seattle at national and international slam championships.

The board of SPS nominated Daemond because: “As part of the slam poetry movement started in Chicago by Mark Smith, the Seattle Poetry Slam uses audience members or “regular folks” as judges of our poetry contests. The slam promotes populist art with the notion that you don't need special qualifications to decide what you like about poetry. Following that principal, we conducted an open vote at our weekly show and selected Daemond Arrindell as our Poet Populist nominee. Daemond is a powerful community organizer, an active teacher and coach, a tireless advocate for youth poets and an important voice in Seattle Poetry Slam.”

Statement

Throughout my adult life, I have been moved by the power of words. As a counselor and teen hotline manager, my focus is helping people to feel heard. Teaching poetry has put me in front of incarcerated men and women, kids in juvie, patients on the mental health ward at Harborview, etc.—making poets out of people who never thought it possible. We all have stories worth telling. As a poet, nothing is more important to me than telling the stories that no one else can tell, or speaking up for those who cannot.

Poem

Untitled
Inspired by the chapter “My Name” from Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar. The first half of the first line is Brautigan’s.

i guess you are curious as to who I am, but i don't have a carbon copy name.
	call me what resides in your heart
If your heart has been sling-shotted from your chest, like it never really belonged to you
	that is my name
if you call out your lover's name with abandon when asked where you come from,
	that is my name
when your father couldn't make it home in time to watch you blow out the candles on your 7th birthday 
	that is my name,
when he looked back at you before turning that corner for the last time and you could smell the heat of his departure 
	that is my name
when you pretend not to know what forgiveness looks like, tastes like, smells like
	that is my name
when you stood beneath the almond tree, pointed at the stars and gave them new stories
	that is my name
my name is at the bottom of the rain puddle you choose not to muddy your feet with
my name knows more than you think it does
my name has caught you dreaming
my name calls to you on your deathbed from the other side, 
	but you will not hear it, 
	you will not speak it aloud
	you won’t even look it in the eye
and when my name dangles lifeless from your uvula 
	and you choose not to swallow it whole 
	you will truly know who I am.

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