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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States | INDIE

Knoxville, Tennessee, United States | INDIE
Band Spoken Word Hip Hop


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"Local poet slams truth in his spoken words"

Courageous: possessing or characterized by courage; brave.

Jonathan Clark, known as “Courageous” to people in the poetry world, is the current slam master of the Knoxville Poetry Slam. Clark, a University of Tennessee graduate, started school in 2003, but took a leave from school in 2006 and went on to graduate in spring of 2012.

Clark began his poetry career at the age of 13. His inspiration to start writing came from Knoxville's Carpetbag Theatre. After joining the group, he won his first slam at the age of 14. In 2009, Clark became the slam master of the Knoxville Poetry Slam. Slam master is designating the best of the best in ones poetry group. "The former slam master, Raya Sunshine, was an inspiration to Clark," he said.

Clark is passionate about performing, he said.

“I’m not afraid to perform in front of strangers, but when I get in front of people I know, that’s what is intimidating to me” Clark said. Public speaking is a fear above death for many. “Just get out and do it. Don’t be afraid and face your fear.”

Clark teaches workshops for anyone trying to learn how to slam.

“Poetry get’s a bad rep, like snapping fingers, but it is much more than that,” he said. “I want young people to get more involved in poetry.”

Clark travels across the southeast teaching workshops and hopes to get involved with local schools for workshop classes soon.

Currently, Clark is reading a book by Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize winner. In the book she writes about how old poetry is hard to read compared to contemporary poetry.

“Everyone has their own perspective on poetry; it changes from person to person,” Clark said. “Emotions haven’t changed, it’s the way people speak to show their heart.”

Poetry slams are a form of poetry reading that not for the faint of heart. Poetry slams are, most commonly, competitive readings at which audience reaction, or the reaction of a panel of judges, decides who "wins."

Poetry slams are competitive events in which poets perform their work and are judged by members of the audience. Typically, the host or another organizer selects the judges, who give numerical scores based on the poets' content and performance.

Knoxville Poetry Slam meets and practices with teams each month to give each other feedback on what they are working on. When competing in slams, contestants will receive points. The person with the most points at the end of the season will become season champion.

“The points aren’t want is important, it’s important for people to speak their voice,” Clark said. “Always remember, the same poem that scored 6.9 may be the same poem that made someone not commit suicide.”

Anyone interested in joining Knoxville Poetry Slam can come to a slam or open mic night and perform. Before performing, contestants need to read the rules at Poetry Slam Inc. (http://www.poetryslam.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10&Itemid=25)

The fourth Sunday of every month, the Knoxville Poetry Slam host s a slam at The Well, a local bar on Kingston Pike. The Knoxville group will be traveling to compete in Southern Fried held in New Orleans June 5-9. Clark asks for people to be on the look out for fundraising opportunities they are working on for their competition. For more information on the Knoxville Poetry Slam group check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Knoxville-Poetry Slam/140872129279840?ref=ts&fref=ts.
- University of Tennessee School of Journalism Press

"Slammin' Poet Comes To Art Bar"

Slam poetry — quick, thoughtful, creative competition.
Lane Shuler is one of many rising slam poets. Tonight,
you can catch him at Columbia’s own Art Bar at 8 p.m.,
where Shuler will be performing one of his new longer
Don’t know much about the “sport?” That’s OK; it’s a
growing artful talent. Slam poets create two- to threeminute pieces that are usually fast-paced and typically
rhyme. They can range anywhere from thoughts on
politics to everyday issues. Tournaments are held
throughout the country, champions are made and poets
are formed.
Shuler claims that he stands apart from many of his
local competitors. He’s from Knoxville, Tenn. , where he
competes against many other poets.
“A lot of other slam poets make their works too
personal,” Shuler said when asked what makes him stand
out. “I want people to hear what I have to say and relate
it back to their own life. I want them to think about how
it directly affects them.”
Slam poetry is growing faster than those outside the
particular artistic sphere would guess. One of the latest
tournaments Shuler participated in was Southern Fried
2010 , held in Knoxville from June 2 to 5, where he said
he performed very well. Poets form teams of four to ? ve
people and are then ranked on their individual poems.
Five random people are then chosen out of the audience
to score the works they have just seen.
Though Shuler is visiting Columbia from Tennessee,
he knows of many other local slam poets. Some call cities
with a wealth of slam poets “slam cities,” where many
poets gather to show off their skills.
Many of Shuler’s works are underlined with the
passage of time. His pieces are very thought provoking
and derive from many of life’s challenges. “We aren’t
here on Earth for very long, and I’m here to remind
people of that,” he said in a piece

He pointed out that if you’re 20, you can only repeat
everything you’ve done three more times in your lifespan
(if you’re lucky). How many college-aged students have
possibly realized this when planning their weekends?
The way the art is performed, with emphasis on
certain words and sounds, is designed to captivate
the audience. When watching him perform, one can
tell when Shuler feels strongly about a subject. The
passionate way he emphasizes things makes sure to grab
and direct his audience’s attention to crucial aspects of
the performance.
One of his most passionate creations is a slam poem
about his grandfather, who passed earlier this year.
Though the loss marked a tough time for Shuler, he
makes sure to see the bright side of life. The witty poet
stated, “A three-legged dog still has three good legs.
It could always be worse.” His chipper outlook on life
shows throughout his work.
Even if slam poetry is not your cup of tea, there’s
something about Lane Shuler’s work that you can’t stop
watching. His art instills lingering thoughts on life, time
and how precious every part of human existence can be.
His performance at 8 p.m. at Art Bar will certainly be a
motivational show you won’t want to miss. - The Daily Gamecock

"Townsend Poet Seizes Oppurtunity To Follow His Dream"

Come spring, Heritage High School graduate Lane Shuler will leave the mountains of Townsend behind for life on the road.

Oh, he’ll still make the mountain community in which he makes his home a base of operations. But for the first time in his life, he’ll be freed from the shackles of a 9-to-5 job to pursue his passion: professional slam poet and performance artist.

“With a job like that, I can literally live anywhere,” Shuler told The Daily Times this week. “I don’t have to be attached to an office or a hotel, but I really do want to make Blount County my home. I’ve always liked this area, and I appreciate Blount County. It’s given me good stories and so many outlooks on life. But there’s still so much to see, and so little time to see it.”

Shuler is a familiar name in the local hip-hop community, and an even more recognized one in local slam poetry and spoken word circles. At Heritage High, he discovered the power of words in the rhymes of socially conscious hip-hop acts like Sage Francis; when he tried writing his own rhymes, he discovered a natural talent.

After high school, Shuler attended East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, and during his college years recorded the album “The Best Way to Get There.” After graduating from college in 2009, he returned to East Tennessee but grew frustrated trying to break into the local hip-hop scene. A friend advised him to consider open mic poetry instead.

“He told me to find an open mic, go to it and share my work, and if I had what it takes, the rest would come,” Shuler said. “I found the Knox Poetry Slam and did that a couple of times and ended up winning one.”

Slam poetry is a more visceral art form than a traditional poetry recital. It evolved out of Chicago in the mid-1980s, and the performances are judged on a numeric scale by members of the audience. Because such a ranking rewards actual talent, Shuler found it more gratifying than hip-hop, he said.

“Today, I would say I’m more of a poet than a hip-hop artist,” he said. “I want to keep it 50-50 as much as possible, but I’ve had the most success in poetry. In hip-hop, the squeakiest wheel seems to win, meaning that if you do a lot of shows and promote yourself, you have the most success. With poetry, it’s straight competition.”

Through a conversational style that’s in stark contrast to his hip-hop rhymes, he won the Knoxville Poetry Slam’s annual competition two years in a row, and was part of a team of local slam poets who made a strong showing regionally and nationally. During his travels, he met some of the nation’s best slam poets and became inspired by their ability to make a living traveling and performing at colleges around the country.

“One of my friends came to town and did a show, and one of his points was that he was working a 9-to-5 job every single day doing graphic design, but he hated it, so he decided to dedicate his life to poetry,” Shuler said. “That inspired me. I quit the desk job I had with 21st Century Mortgage and went back to work at Blackberry Farm, where I make my own schedule and have the time to take these trips.”

One of those trips will be on Nov. 16 to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he and fellow Knoxville slam poet David “Upset” Rasnake will perform before a conference of talent buyers from colleges across the south central United States. He’s hoping what he has to say will impress those buyers enough that he can book enough shows to pursue poetry full-time starting in the spring.

“One of the big topics I address is carpe diem — the idea that we’re only here for a short amount of time cosmically, and that we need to make sure we’re doing the best we can in the short amount of time we have,” he said. “Death is brought up in my work a lot, and how our time here and our experiences shape our existence and our view of the world. I do a little in the comedy realm, but it mostly ties back in to seizing the day.” - The Daily Times

"Press Review Compilation"

“Pet Sounds for the Hip Hop crowd.”
-Thomas Arnett WUTK 90.3 Knoxville, TN

“The most electrifying live show we’ve seen in quite some time.” -Clinton Spain, Station Manager of WETS The EDGE Johnson City, TN

“Rapid fire lyrics with a wry sense of humor and a taste for the spice of life”
-David Grimes, South Knoxville Times

“The live concerts match the passion of his album, and his commitment to providing a quality performance.”
-Mark Alewine, Freelance Writer, Oak Ridge Observer, and The Knoxville Voice.

“The number one must-own national hip-hop album of 2008” )-Steve Wildsmith, The Daily Times Maryville, TN
- Various Outlets

"Press Review Compilation"

“Pet Sounds for the Hip Hop crowd.”
-Thomas Arnett WUTK 90.3 Knoxville, TN

“The most electrifying live show we’ve seen in quite some time.” -Clinton Spain, Station Manager of WETS The EDGE Johnson City, TN

“Rapid fire lyrics with a wry sense of humor and a taste for the spice of life”
-David Grimes, South Knoxville Times

“The live concerts match the passion of his album, and his commitment to providing a quality performance.”
-Mark Alewine, Freelance Writer, Oak Ridge Observer, and The Knoxville Voice.

“The number one must-own national hip-hop album of 2008” )-Steve Wildsmith, The Daily Times Maryville, TN
- Various Outlets


2008 - Lane Shuler : Best Way To Get There
2010 - Courageous : Live - Recording In Progress
2013 - Lane Shuler : Live At The Well
2013 - I.N.K. : I



I.N.K was formed in 2011 when Jonathan "Courageous" Clark and Lane Shuler joined forces to write and perform poetry in the city of Knoxville and beyond.

Lane Shuler had been performing hip-hop since 2005, and started focusing more heavily on poetry, taking the Knoxville Poetry Slam team to the 2010 Southern Fried Poetry Slam Finals. A year later, an accident caused Shuler to suffer acoustic trauma, which ultimately left him with an irreversible hearing impairment. While struggling to accept this loss, he realized that it was time to follow his dreams, so he reached out to Courageous...

Courageous began his love affair with the stage in junior high school, winning his first poetry slam at the age of 13. Early on, he learned that sharing his work with the audience was his emotional outlet and the healthiest way to express himself. As a bi-racial young man raised in the South, issues of intolerance, prejudice and racial tension were abundantly clear. Courageous relied on his pen to find better understanding of his surroundings and began to share his art work and knowledge with youth teaching performance workshops. His dedication and love for performing landed him the title of the Slam Master for Knoxville's Poetry Slam team in 2009 and would lead to his first meeting with Lane Shuler as the newest poet on the scene. Forming a bond solidified by Slam Poetry, the duo of Shuler and Courageous was born.

Merging their unique styles proved to be a winning combination in 2011 where they led the KPS team to the National Poetry Slam Group Finals, and from then on they have been writing and performing together nonstop. From the mountains to Miami, from Boston to Austin, the I.N.K. duo now travel to colleges and poetry venues around the country sharing their diverse body of work. Due to their differing racial and life backgrounds, their entertaining perspectives on everyday life are perfect for diversity events, writing events, Black History Month, comedy, and much more.