Laredo BorderSlam uses slam poetry to build culture in the region

Laredo is a community with a rich culture, and one local organization is making it clear that they want to incorporate more people into their activities by making sure they bring their events to people.

Laredo BorderSlam has long been known to hold its rallies at a specific site, but recently announced plans to hit different parts of town. These events will include a spoken word, or poetry slam, contest in which participants will recite a poem they have developed for the audience.

Most recently, Laredo BorderSlam performed Thursday at Casa Deutz, located at 1814 Victoria St.

“A few weeks ago we were contacted and invited to host one of our regular slams at Casa Deutz, located in the historic district of St. Peter,” said Beatriz ‘Mrs. Bea’ Ceja, president of Laredo BorderSlam said. “We embrace Laredo’s history, we embrace local artists, and we embrace this amazing neighborhood with beautiful historic homes. We immediately embraced the opportunity and felt it was a good time to draw attention to the different landscapes around Laredo.

The Cultura Beer Garden has been the venue mainly chosen by the group as the center of its events since the pandemic situation began to improve.

Ceja says the pandemic really had an effect on their events and the number of people who attended, as they saw them trying to recruit and attract people.

“It’s almost like we’re starting from scratch,” Ceja said. “We have been around for 11 years and the pandemic has hit us hard. It’s almost like people forget that performative poetry exists in Laredo. We are happy to refresh people’s memories and also introduce it to a new audience. We are a fun group and love people to join us.

Even though the Laredo BorderSlam is now open to host their events in various parts of the community, it is said that Cultura will always be a place where they gather and hold events.

“Cultura has graciously opened its doors to us since we started having slams again, and we couldn’t be more grateful,” Ceja said. “We will return to Cultura on June 2 for our Pride Slam celebrating Pride Month.”

Ceja says attendees will find all sorts of issues being discussed, from the pandemic to social issues affecting people living on the border and nationally as well.

“We have a bit of everything at Laredo BorderSlam,” Ceja said. “The beautiful thing about performative poetry is that you thrive and you’re vulnerable, and while you’re on stage, you might feel lonely. But when you go down, you find a lot of people relate to your words. It may be for competition, but audiences really love poetry.

Ceja says this isn’t the only event they’ll be hosting “in the streets,” as they plan to hold it elsewhere as they hope to attract more people and create various niches in the community.

“We’ll have another show this month at another Laredo location, so stay tuned,” Ceja said.

Ceja hopes people will attend their events as they finally start to get back on track as the pandemic situation improves. She hopes locals realize how much poetry provides an outlet for people to express themselves and be heard.

“We are happy to play again after a long break due to the pandemic,” Ceja said. “We will play for anyone! We can have a spectator or a poet, you will have a spectacle.

Ceja says they can be contacted through social media and any other means possible to invite them to host events at a certain location. Laredo BorderSlam can be found on both Facebook and Instagram.

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