Turns out nothing inspires fear in the hearts of hulking athletes like POETRY. Yesterday, the Nuyorican Poets Café posted a picture of the Knicks' new ad campaign, which reads: "It's Friday Night. You can either watch East Village poets do battle or see real artists slam." Poets, or as they're known in sports, "Not real artists," were pissed. Hundreds of arts supporters shared the post, and their outrage. "I'm ashamed to be a Knicks fan right now," said Byron Jackson. Nicole Sweeney added with flavor straight out of a slam poem: "This ad is STRAIGHT WACK!"
MSG Networks, which ran the campaign, was approached by Urban Word NYC, a non-profit which offers free literary and slam poetry education to youths in the city. In a rare poets-beat-big-business moment, MSG Networks "promised to have the ads taken down, rapidly. Most importantly the Knicks and MSG will also continue to support youth poetry programming in the NY area," wrote Fish Vargas, a representative for Urban Word, on Nuyorican's Facebook page.
The posters, created by agency Silver + Partners, came as a big surprise in light of the Knicks' past support for slam: "For the past ten years, the Knicks had funded the Knicks Poetry Slam program," Daniel Gallant, director of the Nuyorican Cafe told us. "But they very recently decided to cancel that program (after having committed three months ago to continue funding it). They have agreed to continue their support of full-ride college scholarships for rising student poets at universities ... But the loss of the Knicks Poetry Slam will be felt this year throughout NYC's spoken word community, and this ad campaign - on the heels of such an adverse funding decision - was a kick in the teeth to the city's poets and arts educators."
Poesy may have won this battle, but the Knicks may get the last laugh, as we're guessing the poor poets will be left in the cold without $800 for tickets to next week's game.