Poetry duo give new experiences

Dan “Sully” Sullivan, member of the slam poetry duo, Death From Below, along with Alvin Lau have been performing professional poetry for about five or six years.

They have been featured on DEF Jam Poetry.

Death From Below will be the featured act at University Board’s Open Mic Night today.

“We’ve been writing and performing since about 2000,” Sullivan said.

A third member, Tim Stafford, sometimes performs as well, but will be unable to make it.

Sullivan said he has actually been writing poetry since high school.

“A lot of our work is labeled as stand-up poetry,” Sullivan said. “We try to represent what it means to be from Chicago and the suburbs of Chicago.”

Sullivan said Death From Below talks about occurrences in Chicago because they are from the south side of Chicago.

“It is not white picket fence, it is more smoke and liquor stores, and people from big cities understand this,” Sullivan said. “We deal with things like this through our humor and tell our stories along with our family’s stories. We use these stories as a springboard for our poetry.”

Sullivan said they talk about things ranging from skateboarding to capture the flag to break-dancing in a warehouse.

Sullivan added that Death From Below’s slam poetry is not expressed in what people would think of as a normal poetic way.

“When people think of poetry, they think of dudes with beards talking about trees or boats or something,” Sullivan said. “This is a different experience – we are not beatniks snapping our fingers or anything.”

Lauren Phillips, UB Mainstage coordinator, said she decided to have this group perform because a lot of Eastern’s population is from the Chicago.

Phillips found them at the National Association for Campus Activities’ regional conference at Peoria in October.

The reason Phillips picked them is because a lot of students read poetry at the open mic nights.

“They were so entertaining and their charisma on stage pulls you in,” Phillips said. “They also do a lot of comedy poetry.”

Sheila Hurley, UB concerts coordinator, said UB thought a slam poet duo would be something different.

“They did a poem about growing up and hanging out at parks and we thought it was really funny,” Hurley said.

Hurley said that slam poetry is kind of like rap with the performers talking really fast and rhyming a lot, but without the beat.

Phillips said this is the last Open Mic Night before spring break and this time anyone can come, but they must be there before 8 p.m.

The Open Mic portion will take place from 8 to 9 p.m. and Death from Below will perform from 9 to 10 p.m. in 7th Street Underground.

Heather Holm can be reached at 581-7942 or [email protected].