If Dino S. Hall is passionate about two things, it's poetry and planes. A 30-year vet in the aviation industry—serving both as a pilot and a head air traffic controller—Hall started a poetry slam series in October, A Night of Spoken Word. In addition to bringing nationally renowned poets to the Duke City, the series is designed to raise funds to send youths to an airplane camp at Kirtland and the Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. "The thought came to me, Why not let poets help me get the word out?" Hall says. A longtime poetry fan, he says he’s flying the wordsmiths in on his own dime from around the country.
This month Hall brings "Mama" Brenda Matthews and HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” poet Oscar "Triple Blak" Lester, both from Chicago, to perform at the South Broadway Cultural Center. He also encourages anyone to speak up at an open mic preceding the scheduled poets.
Hall's project has lofty goals—he says funding one student for a weeklong Space Camp session can cost $25,000—but it's familiar territory to him. He's been working in aviation programs for kids since 1991 and has set up two foundations to aid the process. One is for-profit and in his name. The other, the Angela Denise Hall Foundation, is in honor of his wife and is nonprofit-pending. As Hall explains it, his foundation puts on events and concerts. “If we can make some money then we'll funnel the money into the nonprofit ADH Foundation. The foundation will give away the scholarships and provide the resources for kids to go to the Space Camp and the aviation camp.” The scholarship process will start in the Spring, when Hall will make applications available to youth ages 9 through 17.
Those fundraising concerts include a show he's hosting in Albuquerque early next year featuring ’70s soul legends The Chi-Lites and The Stylistics. And he's already made arrangements to bring The Last Poets (think "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised") and The Watts Prophets to perform at a Night of Spoken Word next summer.
The $7 door charge covers both the two- to three-hour event and appetizers from Mr. Powdrell's Barbeque House. There will be no spoken word night in January, as Hall is working on a Kwanzaa event, but he has poets from New York, Atlanta and Memphis lined up for the following months. He's hoping to really get the series off the ground on Saturday.