MTV sponsors tour of poets

Giving new meaning to the buzz phrase “free your mind,” MTV will launch its first spoken-word tour, spotlighting the work of three top poets.

The 20-city Free Your Mind tour launches today and will hit college campuses and cities nationwide.

It will include spoken-word artists Reg E. Gaines, Maggie Estep — whose style has been dubbed “rant ‘n’ roll”– and John S. Hall.

The tour also will feature celeb appearances by recording artists such as Speech from Arrested Development and Evan Dando of the Lemonheads. MTV will sponsor contests at each stop, giving local poets the opportunity to win an opening spot on the show’s bill.

Gaines and Estep are channel faves, appearing on MTV’s “Spoken Word Unplugged” and in its “Fightin’ Wordz” campaign. Hall is a founding member of Atlantic Records alternative rockers King Missile.

“When we premiered the ‘Spoken Word Unplugged’ program last summer, we found our audience felt very passionate about this form of expression,” said Howard Handler, MTV’s VP of marketing. “Bringing the tour live opens up a forum for our audience to explore issues of diversity and creative expression.”

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