Yallapunk brings punk-poetry to Penn Museum

2 minute read
YallaPunk will celebrate SWANA music and culture at Penn this week. (Photo provided by YallaPunk.)
YallaPunk will celebrate SWANA music and culture at Penn this week. (Photo provided by YallaPunk.)

Crawl Out Thursdays at Penn Museum have a simple goal: to get you moving. Yes, it is laughable that an archaeological museum defined by its wealth, whiteness, and overwhelming lists of don’ts must sanction bodily movement. However, this June 6 event is worth paying attention to because co-organizers Yallapunk offer an upending of the musty paradigm—a cadre of poets and musicians as a screaming rainbow amid colonial plunder, an invitation to hear the voices of humanity.

Eclectic Acts

Among the acts, you’ll hear readings by punk poet Andrea Abi-Karam from their new book EXTRATRANSMISSION, a journey through the complicated, often contradictory nature of self-exploration and performance by Maryan Captan, and a reading from Philadelphia based poet/activist/actor Becca Kahlil. Music will be performed by Roger Mgrdichian (of Baraka) on electric oud and Julius Masri (of Dromedaries and Ominous Cloud Ensemble) on circuit bent synthesizers, drums, and kamancheh. DJ Rana Ransom will be spinning beats between acts.

And what is to come from these voices? Perhaps unrestrained verbal avalanches, liquidations of phonemes into tones and rhythms. Splashes of Armenian and Turkish sonic heritage strewn about sounds undergoing temporal decomposition between bursts of radio static, beats for dance, clicks of staplers. Personal histories unfolding alongside activist calls and dreamy narratives.

More Than Entertainment

One can easily say, “Oh, how daring, a poetry reading with a noise band. That’s nice.” But it would fail to encompass the very essence of Yallapunk. The DJ for the evening and Yallapunk founder, Rana Fayez, has long seen the potential for joy in music. She began by organizing being a concert for the people of Blacksburg, Virginia, near the first anniversary of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech. Her goal, in so many words, was “to give people something to look forward to.” This event, too, serves as an uplifting rebellion, an assertion of worth and love for the self and an inclusive Arab community.

Billed as a happy-hour-like event, YallaPunk meets Crawl Out Thursdays at Penn Museum, 3260 South Street, on June 6, from 6 to 9pm with a cash bar. Tickets are $15 and are available online.

Editor's note: a previous version of this article misidentified the pronouns of Andrea Abi-Karam. Abi-Karam uses they/them pronouns.

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