The Portland Poetry Slam's Unwelcome Spotlight 

After a Robbery, the Community Steps in with Support

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IF YOU'VE NEVER been to the Portland Poetry Slam, you might not realize just what a scene it's become. Since its beginning in 2009, the all-ages, pay-what-you-will weekly event regularly attracts between 150-200 people, according to organizer/poet Eirean Bradley. In addition to an open mic portion that welcomes poets of any age and experience level, the slam brings in nationally known poets, and also sends local poets to events like the Individual World Poetry Slam and the Women of the World Poetry Slam.

But the Slam hit a major snag recently, when the home Bradley shares with several other members of Portland's poetry community was burgled on May 27. Along with laptops and other personal items, the Poetry Slam's entire cash fund was stolen, about $7,000, money that they'd planned to use to send a team to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the National Poetry Slam.

"It was in the house [temporarily] because we were switching bank accounts to an account that would allow us to make larger purchases," explains Bradley. "The cops were called and a report was filed because it was a full break-and-entry situation and there were several items stolen. We were told that most likely we weren't going to catch anybody because this isn't CSI and the burglars didn't leave semen everywhere.

"This is actually a conversation we had with the cop," he continues. "It felt good to laugh a little after such a craptacular night."

After the burglary, the Poetry Slam launched an Indiegogo fund to recoup their losses. (Indiegogo is a lot like Kickstarter, except participants get to keep all of the funds collected, whether they meet their goal or not.) The funds raised will go directly into their new bank account; as of press day, they'd raised about $5,600, with 10 days to go until their June 15 cutoff date. "A new bank account has been opened and the funds from Indiegogo are going directly into that," says Bradley. In the comments to a Blogtown article about the burglary, Bradley expressed gratitude for the community's support of the Slam, adding, "It's just a shame that the first exposure that this community is getting is because of this and not the massive successes we've had."

To donate to the fund, see indiegogo.com/portlandpoetryslam.

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