OPWC Presents: Leah Gould

By Ginny Masullo
TFW Contributing Writer

When performance poet Leah Gould recites her original poetry this Tuesday for the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective monthly reading at Nightbird Books, she’ll be playing a ukulele behind some of her verses.

This dynamic, award-winning poet performs like a natural, but she hit the poetry slam scene reluctantly. Leah said she’d always thought slam poetry lame.

She had been writing and reading poetry since a young age, teething on the likes of Pablo Neruda, Hafiz and Audre Lorde.

By happenstance, she attended a slam at a bookstore in Missouri where she attended college. “Blown away” by what she heard, she returned to the Missouri Poetry Women of the World Slam Qualifier.

“It was so fun and inspiring seeing all those strong, awesome women up there expressing themselves and kicking ass,” Gould said.

Yet, it was not until the death of her father two years later that she decided to write some new poetry and perform it. To do so, she cut off her forever-long hair hoping no one would recognize her if she performed badly. She did not bomb. She won the competition and was later recruited to become part of a team that competed in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam.

With her Missouri slam family offering inspiration, Gould performed with the Ozark Slam team at the nationals and will be representing Fayetteville next month in Denver at the Women of the World Poetry Slam. She has a chapbook and a spoken word CD.

Gould executes her performances with the finesse of a seasoned performer. Her poetic observations and themes reveal a wise knowledge and ardor for “this whirling dance of time.”

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