Daje Morris performs at Big Ears Poetry Expo

As the artful Big Ears Festival breezes through Downtown Knoxville, some find themselves swept away by poetry

This year marks the ninth annual Big Ears Festival in Knoxville. The Big Ears Poetry Expo ran March 22-24, including open-mic events with guest spoken-word features. Writer, photographer and singer/songwriter Daje Morris performed as the featured guest Friday night at Awaken Coffee.

Last year, Morris participated in the swamp poetry expo. This year marked her first time as a featured artist. Morris performed four songs, two infused with poetry.

“I like to keep the songs around that speak to me at that time,” Morris said. “‘Blackbird’ is one of those that I find something nearly every time I perform it.”

Based in Knoxville, Morris performs at festivals like Big Ears, Rhythm ‘n’ Blooms and the Dogwood Arts Festival. Her new spoken word single “Blackbird” will be released this summer. She published her first poem collection, “On Becoming Gold,” last year.

University of Tennessee student Anna Helms met Morris while participating in the Women in Jazz Festival last week.

“I thought she had this amazing vibe,” Helms said.

Morris’ vibe translates appeals to the larger community as well. All print copies of her poetry collection sold within four months of publication.

I.N.K. hosted the event featuring Morris and others. A comedy and poetry duo Lane Shuler and Courageous humored the crowd with their improv and a spoken-word poem comparing cooking to relationships.

The poetry expo event ended March 24 with “Loud & Clear: Big Ears Indie Poetry Slam Finale. The winner received a $500 prize.

The Big Ears Festival intertwines music, art, film and performance at venues across Downtown Knoxville each year.

Featured photo by Sage Davis

Edited by Lexie Little/Chelsea Babin