Author Topic: Alvin Lau, Running for EC  (Read 2318 times)

randomcelestial

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Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« on: January 02, 2012, 08:15:23 PM »
In 2002 I saw Dennis Kim open for The Last Poets in a YMCA on the southside of Chicago. So moved by his performance, I decided poetry was going to be my life's work, dropped out of art school, and immersed myself in spoken word, studying with local luminaries and performing as often as possible. After winning two national youth titles at Brave New Voices, I fell in love with the competitive world of slam and advanced to the adult circuit, where I have since set the record for most individual finals appearances of any poet. Over my career, I've performed at hundreds of universities, organized workshops at schools and festivals, published widely in anthologies and journals considered by Best American, performed on two seasons of HBO's Def Poetry Jam, earned an interdisciplinary MFA in Poetry and Performance, and I volunteer at The Moth Storyslam, Chicago's largest spoken word show. I've developed one of the most comprehensive understandings of where spoken word floats in our cultural and academic zeitgeist, and have a specific long-term strategy on how to raise our community's cultural significance, which in turn will increase the number of writers and audience members at slams.

Outside of poetry, I am a prominent game theorist, with regional, national, and world titles across various games: I'm a nationally ranked chess player, a high-stakes poker player who performs in the top .1% in a highly competitive field, and my side business as a gaming consultant and private instructor has generated nearly $1M in revenue in four years. High-stakes gaming has taught me many important skills which translate to success as a member of the EC: meticulous attention to detail; painful self-analysis needed to identify leaks; intense focus over prolonged periods; incredible record-keeping; scouring rules systems for exploitative strategies; effective bankroll management and ironclad fiscal responsibility. Additionally, my writing on slam strategy is the most comprehensive and most discussed analysis written on the subject.

I'm running for EC because I want to see the poetry slam movement thrive in the public spotlight. The concept of Poetry, even idiomatically, is equated with momentous beauty and observational thoughtfulness, yet slam poets have a cultural importance somewhere between stand-up comedians and hypnotists. Why is this? The greats of our community are  (MacArthur grant winning) geniuses, capable of cathartic, life-changing performances. So why aren't poets doing hour-long specials on Showtime, or performing on the tonight show? Why do we resort to event volunteers and narcoleptics as judges for a tournament like iWPS, which attracts the premiere spoken word talent in the world?

Audiences crave slam. Well-promoted events, from local invitationals to the massive National Poetry Slam, attract huge, sold-out crowds--I am constantly surprised at the exuberant turnout for shows in the farthest nooks of America--yet PSI still throws poorly attended tournaments with regularity. Why is this? What is PSI doing to raise cultural awareness of slam year to year?

As a member of the Poetry Slam EC, my major priority will be a complete renovation of PSI's internet presence, incorporating a hip, re-designed website, high-quality media library of our community's top poets, and most importantly, mandatory streaming video of all PSI semi-finals and finals. The number one mandate in PSI's mission statement is to promote spoken word, and there is no better way to jumpstart that campaign than by creating a massive, free-to-the-public internet presence. Let's learn lessons from more successful spoken word non-profits and tournament sub-cultures and  apply them to slam--hint: event streaming, clear presentation, great store products, and nearly unlimited free video go a long way in making something wildly popular.

I'd also like to: consider public radio partnerships, cross-promote with Indiefeed's performance poetry channel, address the dominance of draw order on indie finals stage, consult with organizers to write a host city guidebook, develop better incentives for host cities to throw successful events, increase the full-time staff to allow for superior fund-raising and project support, change the EC voting process to better accomodate host city needs, and develop better educational material for high schools. However, all of these plans take backseat to internet renovation and expansion, which will serve as a promotional springboard for all other projects. 

Thank you for your consideration, I will happily field all questions!

-Alvin Lau

jesster

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2012, 08:53:38 PM »
Nice to see you officially throwing your hat in the ring, Alvin. I've heard a lot of your ideas and really love them! What are your plans to promote collaboration amongst your fellow EC members in order to help these goals get accomplished?

-Jesse

karen_g

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2012, 11:52:24 PM »
Yay! I've been waiting for your official post.Bravo!
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hsampson

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2012, 10:50:38 PM »
Hey Alvin.   Glad to have your thoughts.  PSI is certainly in the midst of great changes.   Thanks for your post so far.


Sean Mulroy

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2012, 10:30:14 AM »
All of this is right on the money, Alvin.  Glad to see such a precise agenda, voiced with clarity, and glad to  see that you are running.
Sean Patrick Mulroy

randomcelestial

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2012, 11:54:56 AM »
What are your plans to promote collaboration amongst your fellow EC members in order to help these goals get accomplished?

-Jesse

Hey Jesse,

As you have certainly observed through social media channels, I've been intensely debating and collaborating with many of the currently announced EC candidates (and some who are about to throw their hat into the ring) about major improvements for months now, and in that time we've developed strong professional relationships (and close friendships outside of slam), and have intense levels of mutual respect for each other as organizers, artists, and importantly, humans. As you can see from other EC bids and posts from members of the current EC, the internet-first platform that I've been pushing for months has been widely accepted as one of PSI's greatest priorities, if not the THE greatest, and I'm confident that united vision will go a long way in fostering a spirit of cooperation.

karen_g

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2012, 12:39:25 PM »
Nice to see you officially throwing your hat in the ring, Alvin. I've heard a lot of your ideas and really love them! What are your plans to promote collaboration amongst your fellow EC members in order to help these goals get accomplished?

-Jesse

Jesse, when are you throwing your bid for re-election in?? Are you???  ;)
nerak_g

jesster

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2012, 12:55:30 PM »
Let's keep this thread about Alvin ;)

-Jesse

karen_g

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2012, 01:08:42 PM »
Let's keep this thread about Alvin ;)

-Jesse

 ;)
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randomcelestial

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2012, 03:11:26 PM »
always keep all threads about me k thanks <3

cynthia

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2012, 04:23:17 PM »
Alvin,

You and I have not always gotten along, but we definitely share a love for this art form and see the potential in this organization.  I really enjoyed reading your notes here, and think your ideas are very inspiring and achievable. 

Cynthia
Cynthia French
Little Falls, MN
www.cynthiafrench.com

karen_g

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2012, 11:25:39 AM »
I've heard a lot of your ideas and really love them! What are your plans to promote collaboration amongst your fellow EC members in order to help these goals get accomplished?

-Jesse

The most recent post from Bill MacMillan, paired with this question from Jesse are tickling some questions in my brain. I know how, when we communicate largely through social mediums, blogs, emails & posts, tones are often misconstrued that otherwise wouldn't in normal conversation.I still carry the question Jesse asks here, with another angle.
Something I've learned as a slam master & organizer is that a huge component of successfully implementing ideas is in the art of compromise, respect for people who disagree with you & diplomacy. It's all about tone.
I recognize that our LJs and FBs are personal spaces--that said, I have sometimes seen remarks on your page or in your status updates that seem very passive-aggressive, either toward internal goings-on in Chicago or elsewhere, or, like the one Bill quotes.
These kinds of posts, I think, self-sabotage and cloud the points you're trying to make, they run counter to collaboration, diplomacy and constructive dialogue and debate.
That's maybe me. It isn't as though I disagree with calling people out. I think there are times and places and situations that call for them, but I also think there are constructive ways to do it and also ones that are maybe more binary and divisive--the constructive being, generally, less reflexive and more difficult to carry out (method of Tatyana Brown post-WOW providing an example).

I know, this is a long wind up, I'm kind of thinking out the tickle.
I guess my question is whether or not this kind of social-media disdain and calling out would change or shift if you become a member of the EC?
How will your public face change or will it remain the same? Or would you let whatever the job on the EC that you wind up taking dictate that?
nerak_g

Scott Woods

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Re: Alvin Lau, Running for EC
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2012, 12:27:29 PM »
Alvin,

Nowhere in your resume do I note that you've curated or managed a poetry reading. Do you have experience that is equivalent to a SlamMaster as concerns poetry and how poetry shows are produced, aside from performing in them?