slam this! indeed
last slam of the season. the bottom half of the standings are real tight so and everybody signing up tonight has already slammed this season. that means anybody that does well tonight can make semi-finals. impressive line-up: seve, omar, ed garcia, ray & dianne roy. all have third round experience and none, except omar, have made the nationals team. add rob neill (who has nationals experience and would love to rep for nyc), al b back (the young upstart is always a threat) and me.
the open mic was fun & tight with new & old voices doing their thing in the style that makes me love coming early to 13.
eric guerrieri rocked as a feature. displaying old work, new pieces, an impromptu group piece with guy, marty, roger & lynne, he got gully when a cell phone rang out (ah, the host in him lives) and ended it in one of the coolest ways ever… “thanks for listening” you know, poetry is sometimes all about simplicity and you can rack your brain for hours coming up with cool catch phrases and over.stylized.word.play when it can all be said just that cool.
so now… the slam. first off, when we did the intricate drawing system to determine the order of the slam– picking up folded pieces of papers with numbers on them. i was really calm and grabbed the paper that fell closest to me and drew 6 out of the field of 8. i think that may be the highest i’ve ever drawn at 13. slammers 1 through 5 went up and the scoring was tight throughout. by drawing sixth, i knew what scores i had to beat to get to the second round.
guy calls my name, i go up and hit the ‘ceviche’ poem. not my finest performance of it, my nervous energy led me to rushing through the piece and i flubbed two points in the poem but i was able to recover nicely. on the plus side, i felt very expressive and thought that my face was also telling the story my voice was generating. came off stage and the scores were good enough to land me into the second round. roger, who was score/time-keeping offered a few comments on the poem but i was lost in my own thoughts and was already going over my second round poem in my head.
round one saw al b (time penalties and first draw), seve (who had mic problems) and rob (also time penalties) not make the cut. in the second round i went with ‘mercy on the battlefield’ and also delivered a sub-par performance. for some reason, i kept having the clock in my head. there was some voice saying “you’re going to do well and lose on time penalties.” this led to another rushed delivery and i also didn’t move as well i usually do when i rock that poem. the judges felt different and awarded me a real good score that almost guaranteed me into the third round. almost. so i had to sit for a second and wait to see what developed.
third round baby! i finally made it and in the #1 slot no less. so now, thoughts of winning this whole thing became very clear. ed and omar also made the third round which insured their inclusion into semi-finals. they both busted their pieces and then i went up with ‘el ultimo canto’ which while going over the piece in my mind came through full circle. this poem is the last song of lavoe, the last song of all those motherfuckers who came through gave their all on stage and lost something big along the way. this poem is a warning and i had the ending that finally expressed that.
i was real calm doing this piece and only flubbed twice but the poem has a mellow tempo to it that allows for me to pause really hard and not make it TOO noticeable. no, i messed up one line entirely but was able to recover very well (big performance tip! unless you tell them by saying ‘i forgot this part’ or do the scrunch face and stop completely… no one will know that you fucked up. NO ONE! so just go through your piece at your pace and feel free to improvise your way through the error and you’ll be aight. trust me, i know)
the final, improvised stanza came through well and was able to let me leave the stage confident and proud.
the scores got tallied and when it was all said and done i lost to ed by a (cue james earl jones voice) tenth of a point (end james earl jones voice) but it was all good. i made the third round of a ‘lil bit louder’ slam, earned two points in the rankings, shared the final round with ed & omar (which gives me unofficial ‘filatino’ status) and i made the god-damn muthafuckin’ semi-finals! normally, i am cool and calm. win some, lose some. and i spent the whole slam trying to be in that calm mode. no matter what was happening inside, i was presenting the same exterior to the crowd. that shit went out the window when guy announced me as a semi-finalist and i was all smiles, hugs and dance right afterwards.
all in all, i am really happy with coming in second. my main goal was to make semis and the second place finish accomplished that. losing to ed is no major crime and it was only by a (insert michael buffer voice) tenth of a point (delete michael buffer voice) so i know i can step it up that half notch to get the full win. especially when i saw ed get handed the ‘book’ (when you win a 13 slam you get a book and $13 bucks, what you thought you get? a def jam contract?), an anthology of mexican poetry. that image is going to stay with me next season when i will be looking for blood onstage and going for full out wins but for now i am very happy with my second place finish and, of course, my chance to show my stuff at semi-finals.