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Lisa King, 45; slam poet helped spread the art form

When Sini Anderson stopped in a Chicago bar one night in 1992, she didn't expect that a performance by a slam poet would change her life.

''She was on stage slamming, and she changed my life," said Anderson. ''She was representative, she was clear, she was strong, and she had a voice, and she was unapologetic."

She was referring to slam poetry champion Lisa M. King, who died Feb. 13 of a heart attack at her home in Somerville. She was 45.

Ms. King was born in Boston and raised in Dorchester. She attended Copley Square High School (now Snowden International High School) before moving to Ohio. She lived there for three years before moving back to Boston and then to New York City. She returned to the Boston area two years ago, living in Cambridge and in Somerville.

Most of Ms. King's friends were musicians or artists, said her brother, Sean Sullivan of Randolph, and it was with their support and urging that she first became involved in the world of slam poetry.

''At one point, somebody had noticed some of her work, and then she gave a reading," he said. ''The people at her first reading, they picked up on her and guided her into it."

Ms. King soon became known in the slam poetry community for her intense and vivid poems, which were inspired by her feelings about politics and her life experiences, her brother said.

Ms. King was part of a team from Boston that won the 1993 National Poetry Slam, beating 22 other teams from around the country that gathered in San Francisco. She also won individual slam poetry competitions in the Boston area, and hosted competitions at local colleges and universities. In 1995 she helped organize, produce, and host the first National Queer Slam at Outwrite, a national writers conference held in Boston, and hosted the event again in 1996.

''She was somebody who would stand up and speak for a lot of people and say something like, 'We may be queer, we may be poor, and we may not be educated, but we have intelligent thoughts.' Yeah, [her poems] were angry, but it was also righteous and exciting and powerful," said Anderson, who started a women's-only slam poetry group in San Francisco and has toured nationally and internationally as a slam poet.

Between 1998 and 2002, Anderson toured the East Coast with Ms. King and performed some of her slam poetry.

Besides poetry, Ms. King also enjoyed attending Red Sox games and caring for her two cats.

In addition to her brother, she leaves her father, William Sullivan of Scituate; her mother, Eileen of Randolph; and another brother, Thomas Sullivan of Squantum.

Services have been held.

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