BY SARA MITRANO
This Saturday, GAP introduces Allegheny to slam poet Alvin Lau with a performance in the Campus Center lobby from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Lau is a poet and prose writer from Chicago and is passionate about slam poetry. For those unfamiliar with slam poetry, it is a type of poetry which sometimes includes competitions where poets read or recite their original pieces and are then judged on a numeric scale by previously selected audience members.
There are also several rules that must be followed during a poetry slam (although it varies from competition to competition): the poet cannot use an instrument, prop or costume, it has to be less than three minutes, and the poem must be of the poet’s own construction.
Lau has won numerous poetry slam competitions during his career, including being named a four–time regional slam champion and four–time individual finalist in national competition.
Additionally, according to his MySpace page, Lau is also the highest–ranking Asian–American slam poet of all time and has won more high stakes poetry slams than any other poet in the world.
Lau is the son of first–generation Chinese immigrants and often draws from his Asian–American experience. Vice President of Late Night Programming Giulia Molinaro, ’10, saw Lau perform at the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA).
“He performs poetry on gay marriage, Tiger Woods and his heritage,” Molinaro said. “It’s not just serious, but a lot of it is.” Other topics of his include the importance of retaining native language and the desexualization of Asian men in the media.
Described as “Billy Collins meets Kanye West,” Lau is known for his fierce delivery and bold, imaginative style.
“His slam poetry has rhythm and dancing as well,” Molinaro said. “It’s a more upbeat version of poetry.”
Lau’s poetry has appeared in Rattle Magazine, the Poetry Foundation online, on National Public Radio, in countless anthologies and on the fifth and sixth seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. For many years, Lau has performed at hundreds of colleges across the country, including Yale, Harvard and Columbia.
“This is the first poet we’ve had this year,” said GAP Vice President for Special Events Sara Fernandez, “and we are very excited.” Audience members are welcome to partake in free refreshments from GFC between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. before grabbing seats downstairs in the lobby for Lau’s slammin’ show.