Monday, January 07, 2008

Slam Poetry Blogging

by shamanic

So there's an election going full steam in this country, and it's obviously eating a lot of my brain, but I'm going to take a minute to write about one of my very favorite things, performance poetry.

I've been part of various Poetry Slam scenes for a few years now, even competed on a team at the National Poetry Slam in 2006, but I've always had a very mixed experience with Slam. My pieces often garner the loudest crowd reaction, because I write good comedy, but hardly ever have scores to match it. Poetry Slam is scored by judges selected at random from the audience in the coffee shops and bars where they're held, so on the one hand you can't take the scores too seriously (really, it's just random people who walked into the place on a random night, so what do they know?), but on the other hand, when you do a thing over a span of years, you start to collect an impression of your abilities based on the numerical reaction of these random people over and over and over again.

So in 2007, I took the year off from Slam. I still attended the National Poetry Slam, still stayed involved with the scenes I care about (Atlanta's Art Amok scene, with which I competed the year before, Knoxville's exceptionally good Slam at the Corner Lounge) and worked on a spoken word record and tour. I put the record out on October 1, and toured regionally in October and November.

On Saturday, I slammed again at Art Amok for the first time in a long time, and for the first time in an even longer time, I really, really enjoyed myself. I was all the way in my pieces, dealing a death blow to the stage fright that has often crippled me as a performer, and just had a blast. Afterwards, the touring poets who did a feature set hosted a "poetry cypher" outside of the venue, and I did a few more. I had a cold, so I got a chill, but on Sunday there was a second cypher on a street corner in Little Five Points in Atlanta, so off I went, camera in hand, mucous in chest, and did a few more for friends and random people who clustered around to see what these weirdos were doing there on the corner. A saxophone player who just happened to be in the area brought his instrument over and accompanied us the whole time. It was pretty close to perfect.

Yes, there's an election on, but even I have to take time here and there to reconnect with the things I've loved so much in the past. And this weekend, it was just love, love of poetry, love of poets, and feeling the love of friends I haven't seen in too long.

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