Karen's P4 Fundraising Campaign

by Karen Garrabrant

Supporting: P4 Peer-To-Peer Fundraising for The Performance Poetry Preservation Project

My Team: P4 Board



My story with slam poetry really began through the repetition of encouragements from feature poets at Cliterati, a queer and estro-centric mic some friends and I started at a bar in the autumn of 1999. From the beginning, we sought to be an inclusive space for touring trans, queer, women & poets in a bawdy, anything goes setting, one of the oldest gay bars in the country at the time.

Several women along the way featured or cross referenced each other; Kimberly J. Simms, the late Cheryl Burke, Lucy Anderton and others, all kept saying “more women need to run poetry slams. You should run a poetry slam.” Lucy Anderton and Kimberly Simms provided me with my first volunteer opportunities. I held stop watches and kept score, initially and asked a lot of questions. 

I was hooked!

Since I began volunteering, competing, coaching, and being a slam master, I’ve only missed one nationals-level event since 2004.

One of the first things I noticed about the poetry slam is the colossal amount of content created at every event. Some of the best poems, the most memorable poems that would echo back in the weeks following an event, were in preliminary bouts. I work in a library and have an archivist’s sense of  artistic movements and all the content and ephemera they create. I thought of my own Cliterati, and how we weren’t very good at saving content beyond the moments of the event. Sometimes a chapbook or a CD, but little else.

Even worse, poets are mortal.When they pass, it’s their content we use to send them up with and it’s their poems we speak to reverberate their names in the after life. This became very personal to me in 2009 when Shannon Leigh, a young poet on my slam team, drowned in a diving accident.

I made  early acquaintance with Gabrielle Bouliane, who filmed so many of these events. She seemed to be everywhere all at once with a camera, behind it, setting up, or on her way to the next room with it. When she passed on, this idea of creating an archive of poetry slam took on even more urgency.

Often, poets wonder about the history of poetry slam. I was delighted to learn that Mongo had this huge collection of earlier material from poetry slam and that he and Tom Boulaine were working together to set up a much needed archive and digitization project.

I’m excited to encourage the P4 project in whatever way I can. A movement as vocal, as loud and as necessary as poetry slam, needs to have a searchable archive, both for the history and the earlier beginnings of poetry slam, as well as for the content poets continue to innovate and create in the future.


Welcome to the P4 Peer to Peer Fundraising Campaign!  This campaign allows our community to run individualized mini-fundraising campaigns, to share with friends and family.  Thanks for checking us out, and joining up!

P4 is a community-supported, grass-roots effort that protects and preserves the recorded history of the poetry slam movement. P4 possesses a living, growing, and carefully curated performance poetry archive, and our ambition is to collect and catalog a broad representation of the slam poetry movement.  We believe in the power of the poetry slam to change lives, and we are dedicated to preserving the great poetry that crosses hundreds of slam stages, all over the world.

Once you have selected a campaign sponsor, just click "Make a Donation" to lend your support.  Or click the "Become a Fundraiser" button to start a campaign of your own!


If you donate $25 or more to any of our campaigns P4 will send you a free spoken word CD, by one of the powerhouse legends of the poetry slam scene.  

For a donation of $25 or more, you may select either a copy of Taylor Mali's 2003 album Conviction, or Buddy Wakefield's 2006 album Run on Anything!  

Taylor's powerful work has been a mainstay of the performance poetry scene since almost the beginning, and his dedication to capturing and preserving the performances of the poets that crossed the stage of the Urbana Slam in New York City is legendary.  Buddy's voice has become a defining inspiration for a new, emerging generation of poets, and he has toured and performed all over the world with shows that draw rock-star like audiences.  Both of these poets are huge supporters of P4, and both have donated copies of their albums as premiums for P4 donors.

As a special incentive, Taylor has been kind enough to autograph all of his CDs!

For a donation of $25 or more, you can have your pick of either album.
For a donation of $50 or more, we'll send you both!

Thank you in advance for your generous contribution!