'Def Poetry Jam' Special For Coronavirus Relief In Newark

Eric Kiefer

NEWARK, NJ — An epic evening of artistry featuring some of the all-stars of “Def Poetry Jam” will raise money for coronavirus relief among Newark’s underserved community.

The online event will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 23. It will stream online on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/defpoetryjam and Facebook Watch at www.facebook.com/russellsimmons. The show will also be simulcast on Newark’s municipal access channel, NWK 78.

"The goal of our Def Poetry Jam streaming event is to raise funds to provide basic needs for members of Newark’s vulnerable and underserved community," said Danny Simmons, chairman of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation (Rush Arts). "All funds from the fundraiser will be collected by Rush Arts and administered by Newark Symphony Hall’s #EmbraceNewark initiative, with 25 percent going to artists in need."

Lamar “The Legendary Black Ice” Manson and Jessica Care Moore will host the event, which will feature special guest Ras Baraka, the mayor of Newark and the son of legendary writer and activist, Amiri Baraka.

The performers – whom co-creator Russell Simmons called “heavy hitters” on a social media post – will include Def Poetry favorites Georgia Me, Staceyann Chin, Roger Bonair, Bassey Ikpi, and Sunni Patterson.

The event will also introduce powerful new voices like Brandon “Real Talk” Alexander, Elisabet Velasquez and Khemist, and feature legendary poetry voices like Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets.

In addition, actor and Def Poetry veteran Malcolm-Jamal Warner will make a special appearance, and the show will also have a performance by Def Poetry Jam co-creator Danny Simmons accompanied by jazz legend Ron Carter.

The May 23 fundraiser will be presented online by GC Studios, a division of Gushcloud International, in association with Newark Symphony Hall.

Russell Simmons' “Def Poetry Jam” opened on Broadway in November 2002. A television version of the show ran on HBO from 2002 to 2007. The TV series featured performances by established and up-and-coming poets as well as famous actors and musicians, and was key in advancing the cultural importance of poetry. The Broadway show won a Tony Award and the television series won a Peabody Award.

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This article originally appeared on the Newark Patch