Silvana Straw


Volume 17:4, Fall 2016
Slam Issue
After my grandfather’s funeral,
we drove the four hours
from Marysville back to New York,
my Dad and I blasting the stereo,
and singing Elton John songs
at the top of our lungs.

Night fell and we grew quiet,
as the red moon revealed herself above the mountain,
full of love and promise that it all makes sense.

Everything that day felt like we were in outer space…
it was all so sad and it was all so funny–
the funeral home, the cemetery–
Great Aunt Sally’s stories of Grandpa
eating her out of house and home…

and then onto the giant crater of Manhattan,
magnificent and still,
the new Trump buildings lit up like electric beehives,
one less light in the window.

Falling asleep in my little sister’s bed
with her window to the world,
I felt as though a thousand years had gone by–
as though I had crawled on my knees
to the center of the earth and back again,
and still knew nothing.


Silvana Straw is a poet, writer, and performer. Her solo performances have been commissioned by The Washington Performing Arts Society and Dance Place. She has performed throughout the U.S., including at GALA Hispanic Theater (DC); Galleria de la Raza (San Francisco); The Nuyorican Poets Cafe (NY); and The Art Institute of Chicago. She has founded and produced numerous spoken word/slam series over the past 30 years including the first-ever spoken word/slam events at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Smithsonian. She served as a coach/instructor for the DC Youth Slam Team/DC WritersCorps for over 10 years. She is a recipient of DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities literature fellowships and the Larry Neal Writers Award. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The Huffington Post, Gargoyle, and Indiana Review. In 2014, she produced The Ghost of DC Past, a reunion of DC spoken word/slam pioneers from the 80s and 90s. Silvana is DC’s original Slam Champion and represented DC at the National Poetry Slam in 1993 and 1994.