While open-mike nights and slam sessions have become increasingly popular, even trendy, throughout the Bay Area, Berkeley's La Peña has always been consistent in featuring spoken-word artists -- before, during, and after the films Love Jones
. What's cool about La Peña's spoken-word events is that they always involve a cultural context. The "Word Descarga" series mixed spoken word and live Latin music, and "Collective Soul" spotlighted poets, live funk or soul acts, and rap artists. La Peña also hosts the monthly "Word and Sing," an open-mike event, which features acoustic music. The center was an early believer in the Youth Speaks organization, and has hosted several well-attended slam competitions that have provided an outlet for the voices of the young generation.