This Thursday, the County Arts Commission invites you to its inaugural verbal smackdown at the Channing Peake Gallery. Slam! Santa Barbara Limericks: An Evening of Performance Poems is hosted by the Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara and director of the Creative Writing Program at Santa Barbara City College, David Starkey. A limerick slam, as ironic as it may sound, is similar to a poetry slam, where poets recite original pieces, then are judged by preselected audience members. Here, limericks – a five-line poem which is intended to be witty, humorous, and more often then not, obscene-will be used exclusively.

David Starkey

The slam will be held as part of the ongoing painting exhibit, The Magical and Curious Realms of Ralph Auf der Heide, 1915-2008, at the Channing Peake. Accompanying the artwork are corresponding limericks written by Auf der Heide’s wife, Lisl, a poet whose lilting rhymes “employ the same attitude and carry the same punch and small truths the paintings do,” according to Rita Ferri, the creator of the exhibit.

The evening’s entertaining will boast local wordsmiths such as Mary Rose Betten, Chella Courington, Fran Davis, Michelle Detorie, Suzanne Frost, Perie Longo, Sojourner K. Rolle, Barry Spacks, and Starkey himself. The poets involved in the slam will draw inspiration from the exhibit to create their own limericks to humor and astound.

The slam will be held as part of the Downtown Organization’s monthly First Thursday events, which is celebrated throughout downtown Santa Barbara. Slam! takes place Thursday, September 3 at 6 p.m. in the Channing Peake Gallery of the County Administration Building (105 E. Anapamu St.). Admission to the event is free, but seating is limited. Visit for details.


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