Capturing Fire, the International Queer Spoken Word Slam, began in March 2010.  It was founded by Nuyorican Poets Café Grand Slam Champion and Washington Post’s “Fairy Godmother of Spoken Word in DC,” Regie Cabico,  and driven by Natalie E. Illum of Mother Tongue, who would later be a Beltway Poetry Slam Champion.

Capturing Fire was inspired with the support of Split This Rock with the idea that this Queer Spoken Word Festival preceded Split This Rock. The invited poets included Sonya Renee, Chris August, Kit Yan, Tara Hardy, Andrea Gibson and Baruch Porras-Hernandez. Panels took place in the DC Center and performances took place at The Fridge and the DC Center.

Capturing Fire gave birth to the Beltway Slam where Sarah D. Lawson, with the guidance of Chris August, Jonathan B. Tucker,  Natalie E. Illum and a host of slam newbies and veterans,  heralded a new chapter in DC Spoken Word History. Consequently Capturing Fire took place the weekend before Queer Pride in DC during early June.

Related: History of DC Slam Poetry

Capturing Fire had a hiatus in 2011 but resumed subsequently on an annual basis. The event includes a weekend of panels, workshops and performances with poets from the United Kingdom and Canada. Pivotal poets include David Bateman, Cathy Petch, Nathan Say, Karen G., Sophia Walker & Keith Jarrett.  

Capturing Fire promotes trans and queer artists of the poetry slam and encourages allyship, risk and artistic career growth as poets make invaluable professional and personal friendships so that a Queer literary lineage is set in motion.

Past Capturing Fire Slam Champions and Finalists include:

  • 2010: Chris August*, Tara Hardy, Kit Yan  
  • 2011: No Capturing Fire this year
  • 2012: Joanna Hoffman*, Sam Sax & Sophia Walker,
  • 2013: Gabe Moses*,  Adele Hampton & Keith Jarrett,
  • 2014:  Shyla Hardwick*, Adele Hampton & Gabe Moses
  • 2015: Timothy DuWhite* Shyla Hardwick
  • 2016: Jillian Christmas*, Kay Kassirer
  • 2017: Nico Wilkinson
  • 2018: Mia Willis

Prominent sponsors of Capturing Fire include:

  • The DC Center
  • Split This Rock
  • Busboys & Poets
  • Sparkle DC
  • La Ti Do
  • Free In DC
  • The DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities

In 2013, Brittany Fonte and Regie Cabico, co-edited Flicker and Spark: A Contemporary Anthology of Spoken Word and Poetry published by Low Brow Press, which received a 2014 Lambda Literary Award Nomination for Best Anthology. The publication documents the queer literary spoken word and literary terrain throughout North America and The United Kingdom with a stylistic and inter-generational focus.

In 2015, Capturing Fire hosts Toronto’s “Hot Damn, It’s A Queer Slam”  led by the charismatic and musical saw playing wordsmith, Cathy Petch and AwQward Talent’s Queer and Trans Poets of Color hosted by J Mase the III. Theater Artists include Barbara Erochina, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi. The musical stylings of Callie Bulmash, Angelique Palmer was the slam bout master. Gowri K., Ayanna Gallant and Regie Cabico co-hosted wiIth Matt Gallant as score keeper. Michael Santos Sandoval was videographer.

Special thanks and support to the past DC Center Arts Interns Tyler French, Lin Yang, Devon Spencer, Matt Krebs and most importantly David Mariner.

Studio 3440, Sasha Sinclair, Awqward, J Mase III, Sarah Browning, Split This Rock, Kim Roberts, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, DonMike Mendoza, La Ti Do have provided much guidance.

The generous financial support from The DC Commission for the Arts & Poets & Writers have been invaluable.


Regie Cabico

Regie Cabico
Regie Cabico – Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of Capturing Fire

Regie Cabico has appeared on 2 seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and NPR’s Snap Judgement. He has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and through Howard Zinn’s Portraits Project at NYU, has performed with Academy Award nominees: Stanley Tucci & Jesse Eisenberg. He received the 2006 Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers for his work teaching at-risk youth at Bellevue Hospital in New York. Other recipients include Arthur Miller, Sharon Olds, Stephen King, Amy Tan & Edward Albee.

As a former member of the New York Neo Futurists, he received three NY Innovative Theater Award nominations for his work in Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, which won the 2006 Award for Best Performance Art Production. With Don Mike Mendoza, he also curates and co-hosts La Ti Do: A Weekly Cabaret & Spoken Word Series nominated by The Washington Blade as 2012 Best Theater Production. He is former Artist In Residence at NYU’s Asian Pacific American Studies Program and has served as faculty at Banff’s Spoken Word Program. With Brittany Fonte, he co-edited a collection of North American and United Kingdom queer poetry, Flicker and Spark, a a 2014 Lamda Literary Award Nominee for Best Anthology.

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