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Sharing the GPI with Academics at Urban Culture Conference

"We want you guys to come to our school!"–a reaction from professors at the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association (MAPACA) 2006 Annual Conference, after hearing about the Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency (GPI). Guerrilla poets Jessica Philie and Shahid Buttar met arts and humanities academics on Saturday, October 28, 2006, in Baltimore MD while performing and presenting in a panel called "Urban Culture 2: Defining & Negotiating Public Space in the City." Other panelists discussed outdoor sculpture and visual arts, as well as public performance as it relates to immigrants and the concept of being American.

Coming out of the audience and weaving around the room, we kicked the group piece "War on Terror, War on Drugs," which later became a focus of conversation. By starting with spoken word, taking the chairs out from behind the presenter's table, and turning to be next to the people watching us, we took them from one atmosphere to another. Issues on our minds hung on rhythms in the air. We paused the lyrical ambush to talk about what the GPI is and does in DC and elsewhere. Diversity, dialog, community, politics, art, expression, new media, free speech, all words that came to mind when reflecting on how art collectives like the GPI are defining and negotiating public spaces.

After sharing thoughts on the value of artivism and engaging the public, the audience snapped along to the "Baghdad Blues" and then asked questions, one of which sparked a debate with all sides being open to new points of view. After the panel, we listened to the director of a Baltimore art museum talk. A smart and funny woman and lover of the arts, she inspired us with her words: when it leaks from your eyes, hands, and heart, then it's art. We also talked with professors, students, writers, architects, television and music professionals–a variety of people brought together by a self-described alternative association. The GPI will be following up with requests from MAPACA members for visits to college campuses.

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The DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency (GPI) is an anti-authoritarian, collaborative, pro-humanity artists' collective incorporating music, rhythm, spoken word, community and resistance.

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