Michael Lee – “Waking Up Naked”

“The strongest I have ever felt was the first time I said no to a drink. I have said no every morning since September 29, 2008.”

Today, Michael Lee celebrates seven years of sobriety. Check out his inspiring poem about addiction and recovery below.

This poem was performed and filmed at the Soap Boxing Poetry Slam in Saint Paul, which has recently joined forces with Button Poetry to create Button Poetry Live, a new monthly show featuring some of the top poets from around the country as well as local performers. If you’re in the Twin Cities area, don’t miss our Grand Opening on Monday, October 5th at Camp Bar in Downtown Saint Paul. Tickets available here (for priority seating) or at the door.

Best of Button Week 30

“My mother tells me I am a bird, but when she says I am a bird she means the whole world is my cage.”

Don’t miss this week’s Best of Button Playlist, featuring the hottest recent videos on the Button YouTube channel. Updated every week! Today’s additions: Sabrina Benaim and Gabriel Ramirez. Congratulations poets!

Make sure to check out our books and merch in the Button Shop!

Best of Button Week 29

“I have a heart the same size as a fist. I didn’t find self-love until I gave myself a beating.”

Don’t miss this week’s Best of Button Playlist, featuring the hottest recent videos on the Button YouTube channel. Updated every week! Today’s additions: Tucker Bryant, Alex Dang, and Aja Monet. Congratulations poets!

Make sure to check out our books and merch in the Button Shop!

Because of Others – by Michael Lee

(Donate to Button Poetry Live here. Only four days left!)

I think the most important, and exciting, aspect to me about Button Poetry Live is the consistent curation of physical artistic space with a culture of critique and growth. Of course, for anyone who does not have geographical access to the space, the most exciting part must be the fact that Button Poetry Live will consistently produce high-quality video and audio of these performances for all to see. I think, however, that it is so easy to forget about or not consider the work that these poets put into their work. The help we receive.

We can see a video like Neil Hilborn’s OCD and its 10 million views and love it, because it is a thing to be loved, but also believe that the poem appeared out of thin air because that is, in a way, how we are experiencing anything on YouTube or the internet. We only see outcomes and not input. Many Button Poetry favorites come out of an old show in St. Paul called Soap Boxing. Neil Hilborn, Sierra DeMulder, Guante, Hieu Nguyen, Khary Jackson aka 6 is 9, Button Editor in Chief Michael Mlekoday, Executive Director Sam Cook and Assistant Director Dylan Garity, all met each other at the St. Paul poetry slam. We workshopped each other’s poems, we pushed and supported each other. I remember when Neil first read OCD several years ago, it looked nothing like it does now, but through the relationships made in that physical space, Neil was able to workshop the poem, rehearse, re-draft the writing and performance and, after several months, create one of the most well-known slam poems in the world.

Investing in a broadcasted physical space is also investing in Button Poetry’s audience as it is now and will be in the future. Button Poetry Live will create a workshop environment, a free workshop open to the public before each show, and I can guarantee if the space is curated well and intentionally, two or three years from now the most popular poem on the Button channel might just come from a young poet performing and writing out of that space. Not because poets are magicians and our poems just appear, but because we are supported and pushed and given space to make mistakes and learn and be vulnerable and be held accountable in our craft and in our lives, because we experience the poetry of our contemporaries and elders, because we are all active and passive learners simultaneously.

Investing in BPL isn’t just a guarantee of great videos next month or next year, it is a guarantee of supporting new voices, voices you or I haven’t heard yet, perhaps voices that the poets themselves have not yet even discovered. I know when I showed up at my first poetry slam in St. Paul in 2009 I had no idea what stories I needed to tell or how I was capable of telling them. Anyone who has enjoyed my poetry as it appears on the Button Poetry Channel should know it all came out of a physical space and, no matter how technologically advanced we become, we can never replace the physical space (or the human connection which takes place inside of it) that sparks so many of these poems and our ability to write and share them with the world. At the end of the day, had no one come up and greeted me at my first slam and told me they saw something in me and hoped to see me next time I may never had stuck it out, my work may have never made it off the page again. But here I am, because of others. Here we all are.

(Donate here)

– Michael Lee is a Norwegian-American writer and author of the chapbook “Secondly. Finally”, which won the 2014 David Blair Memorial Prize (Organic Weapon Arts). Having received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the LOFT Literary Center, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Indiana Review, Phoebe, Copper Nickel, Poetry Northwest, and The Carolina Quarterly among other journals. He attends the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Best of Button Week 28

“One day, I plan to love so loudly, my body abandons every demon harvesting me.”

Don’t miss this week’s Best of Button Playlist, featuring the hottest recent videos on the Button YouTube channel. Updated every week! Today’s additions: Arati Warrier, Sarah Kay & Rachel Wiley. Congratulations poets!

And don’t forget to check out our newest project, Button Poetry Live! Only one week left to help support!

First Feature for Button Poetry Live

We’re excited to announce that the first feature for Button Poetry Live will be RUDY FRANCISCO​! The show will also feature a performance by Twin Cities (and internet) phenomenon Neil Hilborn​, in addition to a competitive poetry slam for major cash prizes. The show will take place on Monday, October 5 at 8:00 PM at Camp Bar in downtown Saint Paul, MN.

Remember, if we reach our stretch goal of $15,000, ALL OUR BACKERS will get to vote on a feature for one of the upcoming Button Live shows! Click here to donate (and don’t miss our incredible, limited-time rewards)!

Check out this video from Rudy:

Back to school: Button classroom resources!

Teachers, friends of teachers, family of teachers, folks who know teachers! School is kicking back into gear, so make sure to check out some of the awesome classroom resources Button Poetry provides.

Don’t miss our classroom-friendly playlist below, and if you’re an educator or run a poetry org and want a bulk set of any of our published books (check out the full list here) contact us at buttonpoetry(at)gmail for a discount!

Best of Button Week 27

“Somehow, in post-apocalyptic America, these women find razors and shaving cream while scavenging for food and bludgeoning zombies.”

Don’t miss this week’s Best of Button Playlist, featuring the hottest recent videos on the Button YouTube channel. Updated every week! Today’s additions: Melissa Lozada-Oliva & Desireé Dallagiacomo. Congratulations poets!

And don’t forget to check out our newest project, Button Poetry Live!

Best of Button Week 26

“When people tell you your love is just a phase, tell them you don’t like the word ‘just.’ You are not just anything.”

Don’t miss this week’s Best of Button Playlist, featuring the hottest recent videos on the Button YouTube channel. Updated every week! Today’s additions: Pages Matam, Sierra DeMulder, Maya Berkley, Kevin Kantor & Sienna Burnett . Congratulations poets!

And don’t forget to check out our newest project, Button Poetry Live!