Fringe fans who appreciate the word — and don’t we all? — may have already made the acquaintance of the festival’s poetry offerings. (It’s hard to sit in the beer tent on a Saturday night and not be part of the proceedings.)
But for those of you who may have missed it, here’s a guide to the Fringe’s poetry circuit — the Poetry Smackdown, the Toast-Off and the Fringe Poetry Vending Machine. The description comes from Tod Caviness, my friend and former Sentinel colleague, who makes much of this happen:
Fringe Poetry Smackdown V
Where else but Fringe could you find a poetry slam where the judges get just as loud as the poets? Host Tod Caviness brings Orlando’s best spoken-word artists (and one all the way from England) back to the outdoor stage to compete for top honors against a rowdy crowd and a panel of Fringe celebrity judges, including Beth Marshall, Michael Wanzie and Pepe. Poets lining up for the prize this year include Broken Speech Poetry Slam favorites Curtis Meyer and Alex Ruiz, plus Rob Gee (star of the one-man show SmartArse) and a few surprise guests. How did we win last year’s audience-choice award for best outdoor show? Let’s just say that poets know how to use their mouths.
When: 10 p.m. Saturday May 21 and 28
Where: Outdoor stage on the Green Lawn of Fabulousness
How Much: Free!
If you remember if from last year, you may have been doing it wrong. Laugh along with an increasingly blurry stage full of poets, comedians and Fringe celebrities at the outdoor stage’s favorite competitive drinking game. Contestants go head-to-head, composing improv toasts to random subjects pulled out of a hat by host Tod Caviness. A panel of brutal judges heckle out the unworthy. In the end, only one Toaster will be left standing … barely. Putting their livers on the line this year are comedian Arnie Ellis, Fringe fave Rob Ward and returning Toast-Off champ Trevor Fraser, with Orlando Weekly’s Seth Kubersky and TheDailyCity.com’s Mark Baratelli heading up the judges’ panel.
When: 10 p.m. Friday, May 27
Where: Outdoor Stage on the Green Lawn of Fabulousness
How Much: Free!
Fringe Poetry Vending Machine
You know what would go with that slice of pizza? A custom-made poem, written while you wait at the Poetry Vending Machine. Whether you’re looking for a sappy love poem for a Fringe crush, an ode to your dog or just a dirty limerick – we got this. You choose the title and a few key ingredients, and Tod Caviness and his all-star sweatshop of local writers will do the rest. All purchased poems benefit the Orlando Fringe and are 100% vegan.
When: Throughout the hours of the Fringe.
Where: The Green Lawn of Fabulousness
How Much: $5 per poem, negotiable.