Friday, August 7, 2009

Nationals 2009, Day 4

Decathlon Slam: Two words: Ass Cherries
FlagSlam: Two words: Semi Finals

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nationals 2009, Day 3

Yesterday was overflowing with amazing poetry.

The first event I went to was the Women's Showcase. The host was energetic, the poets were awesome, and the venue was cooler than I thought it would be. It was at a design boutique called Design Within Reach. So there was plenty of seating (on really cool chairs, and the space just looked really cool. The only thing that would have made it better was good enough acoustics for people to go off mic. The next showcase I went to had this.

The next showcase was the Death and Remembrance Showcase. This was a hard one, because it was over an hour of heart-wrenching stuff, but it was still amazing. One of the most amazing things about this event, was the audience. Normally with these side-events, the crowd is very transitory. Usually in an outward direction. People read their poem, or hear their friend read their poem, and then leave. This didn't happen. Nearly everyone was there the whole time.

Flagstaff had the early bout. I was the sacrifice poet for that bout. This was the first opportunity I had for performing poetry at Nationals. I did a poem that I had done only twice before in Tucson. But this time I pulled it off without messing up. There was loads of awesome poetry. I remember one guy who I had seen before judging another bout, and he was giving really low scores. He was wearing a tie, and a button-down shirt that was tucked in. I assumed he was a local yuppie, who had been wrangled into judging. Then he got on stage. His performance showed an exuberance I wasn't expecting. This is what I get for jumping to conclusions.

Flagstaff took second in that bout. Because we got first yesterday, we have a pretty good chance at making it to semifinals. We'll know for sure after tonight's bouts.

After that bout I went to get some ice cream, and saw some people filming on the side of the road. They were apparently making a video for the local paper's website. They were filming slam poets doing their poems. I did a poem, and when I find where the video is up I will link you to it.

For the late bout I saw Boston Cantab again. That slam was quite possibly the best slam I have ever seen. Poem after poem blew my mind, and made the whole room explode with the kind of energy you only see at poetry slams. After it was over I went back to the hotel. On the way there I saw someone running, and thought that looked like an excellent idea, because that bout had made me really pumped. So I sprinted for about a block, before my hours spent stationary caught up with me. Then I found a piece of wall to lean against and wrote a poem.

Once I got back to the hotel I found a cipher almost immediately. I got a chance to do two poems, and hear some cool stuff, and bask in the whole cipher energy. Later that night I found some cool people to talk to. We talked about everything from anime, and the originality of art, to gender identity, and the physical symptoms of fatigue.

Then because I knew I had to be up for the LGBT showcase I decided to go to bed. I set an alarm for 10:50, and then ended up waking up at 9:00. I suppose if I hadn't I wouldn't have had time to write this.

I'm hungry now, so I'm going to sign off, and eat some breakfast.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nationals 2009, Day 2

Oh ciphers, ciphers, wherefore art thou ciphers? This Nationals has too much talking to people, and not enough spitting at them. But enough complaining, cool things did happen yesterday, and I intend to talk about them.

I managed to print off a couple poems yesterday at the public library, as well as use the internet that wasn't capped at 15kb/s like the hotel's is. One of these days I'm going to write a manifesto about how internet is a basic human right that shouldn't be charged for. At 3:00 I got my first real taste of poetry. This was the rookie showcase. I had forgotten how awesome this art form can be. Just words spoken aloud can evoke incredible responses. There was a guy there from Paris, and his poem was entirely in French. I have no idea what he was talking about, but his performance was so enthusiastic, and exciting, I really don't care. One of the memorable poems, incited both cheering and booing. I did not think was the possible until I heard "This is a List of People Who Had it Coming" For fear of inciting a riot I will not repeat his words.

That night was beginning of the official bouts. The first bout was one that everyone was looking forward to. I was surprised that tiny bar wasn't more full than it already was. Boston Cantab, NYC Nuyorican, Houston and Madison. So many brilliant poems were on that stage. Last year at finals I mentioned a poem about rape, where a woman was on stage, but a man was doing the voice from off stage. That man was on stage that night, and his poem was almost as terrifying. He has officially become the most terrifying poet ever. He has the most brilliant voice. To use his words, "If I was your lover and all you had was my voice, it would be enough"

The next bout was Flagstaff, San Francisco, Kalamazoo, and Detroit. The judges were low scoring the whole night. Antranormous, our local MC from Flagstaff did a piece called the Wackest MC. It was all kinds of brilliant. Flagstaff dominated the whole night, and in the end came out on top.

After the bout was the comedy showcase. This was unfortunately not as cool as I was hoping. There was some funny poetry, but a whole load of people were in the back of the venue talking loudly, so it was hard to get into the spirit of things. I put my name in the hat, but didn't get called.

After the bout I tried to find a cipher, but was unable too, and was too tired to stay up and wait for one to start. It might have had something to do with me being up at 8:30 that morning. This morning I got up at noon, so I should be able to stay awake until people get tired of talking to each other.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nationals 2009, Day 1.

I have no idea what makes this true, but poets are usually pretty cool people. I've spent the last 24 hours hanging out with poets and it's been great.

I woke up at 4:00 Monday morning, so I could catch a 7:20 plane. As unpleasant as that was, I did get a bagel, and a new poem out of it. I really like this new poem, and I'm hoping to find somewhere to perform it today. The flight was okay, I met someone from Amarillo, who was also a slam poet. He also produced a comic, which he gave me a copy of. This comic is amazing, and is also a webcomic that you can find at: He gave it to me a few minutes before we were supposed to be boarding our plane, and I was so engrossed, I almost didn't get on the plane.

Upon arriving in West Palm Beach, the first thing I notice is the humidity. The air is sticky. I am not sure how this is possible, but trust me. This year may go down as the sweatiest Nationals (though I hear Austin in '07 was pretty bad)

I got some pizza, and then went to the kick-off party. This years kick off party I think was better than last years. Last year it was more of a dance party with loud music, which made conversations tricky. This year the event was much more social. And since I don't drink or dance, I come to parties to socialize. I gave away 13 copies of my CD. Speaking of that CD, it now has a different cover. This is it:

After the after party I went back to the hotel, looking for ciphers. For those of you who don't know, a cipher is when poets do poetry for each other, instead of for points on stage. It's really informal, and a huge part of the slam culture, not to mention a huge part of Nationals.

That's pretty much everything important that happened yesterday (or at least everything I'm willing to mention on the internet for everyone to read (I'll let you decide if I'm kidding or not)) I'm off to go and find some breakfast.