Elizabeth "Lizz" Straight has been on the spoken word scene nationally and internationally for the past eight years. This 28-year-old native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is not only one of the United States' top spoken word artists, but she's also a radio personality and prison activist in the Tampa area. She is currently the host of a weekly poetry show Poetry Is broadcast weekly on Tampa, Florida, radio station WMNF. She was WMNF's Programmer of the Year for 2007.
Lizz has been applauded for her work in correctional institutions throughout central Florida, bringing poetry inside the walls of the prison system.
The Southern Fried Poetry Slam is the second largest slam in the country and she is the only poet to appear on finals stage every year since the first year she entered the competition in 2003 and took first place (First Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2003, individual, and in 2008, team; Second Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2004, Second Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2005; Fifth Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2006; Second \ Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2007).
She is a member of the Tampa chapter of the Tallahassee-based poetry troupe, Black on Black Rhyme (blackonblackrhyme.com), the largest spoken word poetry collective in the country. She has opened for international recording artists such as The Last Poets, Dwele, and Chrisette Michelle.
She was featured in the documentaries Rhapsodists and Portrait of a Poet, which was an Official Selection of the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2007.
Editor David Warner of Creative Loafing said some kind and encouraging words on page 26 of the August 26, 2009, issue. Partial quote, "At a moment when ignorance is being aggressively defended, Deep Carnivale still respects our intelligence. Imagine that."
Esther Martinez, in a story at The Florida Book Review" says she knows "Deep Carnivale will be 'A Celebration of Words' and not a Bourbon Street bacchanal."
"But logophile that I am, I reason I'll get drunk on language. With over 70 writers and artists scheduled [for the 2008 Carnivale] to perform or read from their works, my beaded necklaces will be strung with verse. I imagine haiku shooters..."
"It is just before 10am when I arrive at the corner of Palm Avenue and 14th StreetóDeep Carnivale ground zero. About a dozen vendor tables are lined up around the Hillsborough Community College courtyard where a band of teenagers [Next Exit] are setting up their instruments."The vendor tables sell books by local writers, HCC publications and baked goods. I grab a Cuban favorite, papa rellena, a potato stuffed with savory ground beef. Belly satisfied, I cross the street and enter the historic Circulo Cubano. A nearly 100 year old neo-classical building of ionic columns and marble staircases, it served as the Cuban Social Club and remains the oldest building of its kind in the country."
"When I look back over 2008, my visit to the second edition of Deep Carnivale was a
highlight. You and your staff did a great job and I loved being part of it, again.
I am sure there will be bigger festivals to come. But maybe not better!!!"
– Darrell House, children's book author and 2008 Deep Carnivale presenter.