If, at all possible, never get into an argument with a performance poet. The impassioned pleas, the long pauses, the dramatic breaths, the reaching out of arms, the utter bullshit. Not too long after I started reading, I found myself in a post-9/11 discussion amongst family members. A cousin decided that she would no longer patronize the candy store owned by a group of Middle-Eastern descent. “I am not supporting those people, even one cent! They are not getting my money!” I then went on a tirade asking if she knew there actual country of origin, religion or anything that may link them with the acts of September 11. She had little answer. I continued the barrage and questioned her as to the implications of racial profiling and how if it is OK for Hispanics to generalize “Arabs” then it will be OK for whites to generalize Hispanics.

Man, she was toast. I used all the stuff I picked up from the mic and woo’ed everybody in the room and, somewhere in the middle, got wrapped up in the sound of my own voice and kinda forgot the argument.

It’s rare that this happens in the louderCREW, we usually just go for straight volume when we want to really get a point across. Nobody ever tries their stage shit, at least none I’ve ever seen.

As for the infamous “Slam Listserve,” that’s a whole ‘nother thesis [© T’ai] These boys and girls type as if they were onstage. You can sense the drama building up with every line and feel the mounting urgency of their conviction and may-your-local-deity-show-mercy should you have a conflicting opinion. Few months back, someone on the ‘list commented as to the fact that there are over 300 members but only about 20 or so actively post on the message board. I was about to interject and let them know that I have little desire to post because I really don’t know any of them and don’t feel that my thoughts are that relevant, meaning “It’s your club house, I just visit.” Then decided that I really don’t care what these folks think of me or my opinions.

A little bit after that, a guy was advertising a Slam he was setting up in North Carolina that had one rule that was different from the norm, he required that all Slammers have their material memorized and that anyone reading off-page or forgetting their poems would be disqualified. Santicimo Señor, the whole ‘list jumped on that one and then also questioned how open the Slam was and it’s affiliations. I’ll give the dude all the credit, he answered every question like a pro and maintained a dignified posture throughout. The same can not be said for some of the members of the ‘serve with the highlight being someone replying back “Hey! Fuckwad!”

Let me tell you, if someone on a message post tries to get open like that on me— I will have a field day on their ass. Especially if they don’t know me but then, how am I supposed to have a fight with someone that I don’t even know. How do I get under their skin? What do I make fun of?

That’s the whole bullshit of it.

Mr Congeniality later apologized for his comments claiming he was caught in the emotion of the moment. Dude, you are typing a message that you have to review for spelling (I don’t but that’s me), punctuation, grammar, syntax (Scratch the previous comment, if I’m arguing with someone on e-mail, you’d best believe that every word will be correct) and then you have to click the ‘Send’ button. Do not tell me that you get THAT riled up about an e-mail.

After that episode, I knew I would never post on that board. People don’t know how to act and hide behind their keyboards. Then you see them days or months later and they act like they don’t know why you’re mad. ‘Oh, that comment it was in the heat of cyber battle. Rules of engagement say we meet on the field of RPGs to settle this!’ Yeah, my ass. Now there is an ongoing debate as to whether or not PSI needs to declare an official statement denouncing the war. Personally, I feel that I can speak well enough for myself and that if enough people join you, the ruling body will follow. If not, then you make your stand regardless. Suckas need gangs and fools need clubs. It’s a long road and it’s great to have company but it’s still a long road.

Guy started up a group, Poets Speak, that is putting together a statement denouncing the war. I’m with that because it’s action and it wasn’t waiting for a group of people to join hands together and embrace. Meanwhile back at the listserve, arguments and personal threats are being thrown around like candy and I wonder if some of these boys and girls wouldn’t be better off waiting till this weekend’s SlamMasters meeting and then going at it. Then again, in real life, when you call someone a ‘Fucker’ you’d better be ready to do more than just type.

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