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Sum Poetry 2023

Hi Towne Street family! We had a very special event last month–the fifth year of Sum Poetry! Sum Poetry is TST’s annual spoken word event consisting of performances from featured TST members and an Open Mike. The event took place on July 6th at the Stella Adler Theatre.

This was a particularly special night because it was our first live poetry event in four years! Rehearsal the night before the show was a scene of reuniting old friends as TST members enjoyed quality time together after so many years of virtual shows. The community welcomed us back warmly with an energetic, supportive audience. Much of the audience were even inspired to perform their own pieces. The Open Mike ran all the way until the end of the night, with barely enough time to fit in everyone who signed up.

(Twon Pope)

To open the show, singer Bekka Love and poet Deana performed a musical spoken word piece. Headliner Robert LaMarr Randle followed with his immersive poetry performance, “Break Me to Make Me,” an act comprised of three pieces and complete with music, costumes, and projections. Randle drew upon the night’s theme–“Keys to the Past, Doors to the Future –with poetry that reflected upon slavery and how Black artists have drawn power from their tragic history.

(Lamarr Randle)

Towne Street’s featured performers following Randle included Carlos Mendoza, Raf Mauro, Elena Scarlett Murray, and Cairo. All the poets performed exceptionally and their work deeply resonated with the audience. During each performance, murmurs of appreciation filled the room. Many of the poets performed deeply emotional pieces exploring themes including difficult family dynamics, grief, and racism, though they followed these heavy subjects with moments of warmth and laughter. As the night progressed, it became less so a performer on a stage and a silent audience than a room of people feeling the art together.


Sum Poetry brought together artists and community members after years apart and highlighted the power of the medium of spoken word. The performers captured the audience’s souls through revealing their histories in this deeply personal and artful medium. This wonderful event would not have been possible without our incredible TST members and staff–host and producer RJ Wayne (AKA Philasifer) and producer Melissa Booey made it truly a night to remember. Special thanks are in order as well for Artistic Director Nancy Cheryll Davis-Bellamy and Technical Director Kristina Roth.




Meet Veronica McClelland, who started at TST at age five helping stuff and stamp envelopes. She's come a long way since then and has served in various capacities at TST over the years, including Camp Intern and Administrative Assistant. Veronica graduated from UCLA in June 2022 with a BA in English and a minor in Writing. We're lucky to have her contribute her talents to the TST Blog.

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