National Poetry Slam Report (Wed)

wednesday kicks off with me waking up early to get the team registered.

i get a bit lost in chi-town’s subway but eventually find the registration area and still 10 minutes early. poets are horrible when it comes to administrative shit so i wanted to get the shit over with quick and clean. alas, some pore bastard unintentionally(?) decided to cut me online and i had to flex a bit.

then another turn, PSI is not hooking me up with any shit for nats.

no pass, no free finals ticket, nuthin’!

‘we only give you five passes– distribute them as you see fit.’

ok, hold up. PSI knows that there are four members on the team and an alternate. shit, they encourage that we bring an alternate… it adds more to the ‘spirit of the slam’ and they sure as fuck know that there is a slammaster. so, i have to get up early and do this crap, for PSI, and dont get shit back from PSI!?! ah man, guy WAS right.

dont get it twisted, i love doing this for 13. it’s PSI that i am not feelin’.

on to the opening ceremony, i miss marc smith’s opening but get to see most

of the team intros. pretty damn good and for some reason beyond me, i miss

team burque’s all latino intro. urbana drops their ‘dot-dot-dash’ piece and

13 decides to parody themselves and introduce the dancing hamster to the

slam world. i also get interviewed with celena glenn by aaron yamaguchi (tatzuo ) met some new peeps, reconnected with some other ones and the

entourage arrives! fish, lenny and ed garcia are among the first to join up

with us. i chill with ed through most of the ceremonies and start formulating some opinions. we both meet up with shaggy flores and find out that PSI didnt want any identity showcases. no lation, asain or african american. ah, PSI, my favorite!

meet up with maria and automatically feel better.

rich, ray-dan and jayme also join us as we walk around chicago’s cultural center and then head back to the hotel. catch some tapas with the team and then i sneak in a siesta

on to the competition– i figure that i’ll just chill in the note for all three matches, for a second i almost didnt but then realized that i’m here for fucking poetry and thats what i’m going to get.

prelim nite 1- 7:00 pm at the note

st louis vs san antonio vs kalamazoo

i dont know any of these teams so i’m all clean slate about this. maybe its the the fact that they got two chicanos on the team but i am swinging towars san.anton.

i prove to be right as san anton has the best (imho) poetry. st louis falls behind but recovers in the second round when one of their poets rocks a predictable spurned love poem that begins soft then goes ALLVOLUME the soft then ALLVOLUME. the gimmick worked for me once but not twice– the judges loved it.

storm poet tapestry drops a piece about being an old punk rocker.

nothing life changing.

the last round is tight: st louis (78.2)/san anton (79)/ kalamazoo (78.5)

st louis starts it out with mama blue searing the ‘united snakes of ima scare ya’ over the coals and rocking the high score for the night. dan stevens of kalamazoo tries his own take on the same theme (talk about foreshadowing) with the united states of amen. a satirical look at the u.s. through the eyes of an ad hoc tv preacher– a 25.9 says the judges aint feelin it.

its all in san anton’s hands (another precursor) their poetry has been strong but the anchor poet with her soft delivery and heavy moments of silence falls short (jeez, whose writing this- neil gaiman?) her content was a bit shallow, not shedding any new light, so her 27.7 was pretty well deserved.

st louis with shouting and black identity takes it.

prelim nite 1- 8:30 pm at the note

chicago-wicker park vs greenville, sc vs austin

bonafide and kevin coval are reppin for wicker so thats my team for this bout. side note– texas hit nats six teams deep and are all pulling for each other. a state t-shirt lets you know not to mess with texas. really nice seeing them be there for each other as many of austin were rootin for san.anton and vice versa.

eitan sets it off for wicker park and stumbles in score (im not a big fan of his poetry but he did hit it 100%) greenville is all right but christopher lee from austin has me changing my mind. his poem is pretty tight with a good positive message of black identity.

round 2 has greenville fumble in score and chi & austin come in neck & neck. my first look at the often heard of genevieve van cleive (sp?) she rocks. ditto for the lightly mentioned dan sullivan of wicker.

round 3 is a slug fest between chicago & texas. austin drops their prisoners final request duet that i heard about last year and ripppps it. that piece is hella-dope as it has one poet speak as the prisoner while the other drops the poem and then flips it a couple of times. amazing!

kevin drops his ‘o’ israel’ piece which is also amazing as it incorporates his hip-hop flow, wonderful poetry and hebrew song with an intense political statement. not commentary but statement. dont get the two twisted.

this bout’s storm poet is from paris… sabrina see. nice poem… no change in my social outlook.

the last round is where austin & wicker park get to settle accounts.

bonafide performs in front of the class. it rocks but the problem with often done pieces is that i start to compare performances and i think he did it better at acentos and rikers then he did here. the judges (medium low scoring but consistent) give him a good score but its not enough to take out austin.

two great matches in a row…

prelim nite 1- 10:00 pm at the note

los angeles vs portland vs nyc|union sqaure

13 gets the c slot which is excellent in this type of bout as it gives you the edge on score creep since your team goes up last in rotation twice.

the sac poet, reality, gets a low score (23.3) but steve connel and seikou fix that quick with la’s typical high energy group pieces (27.2), rough draft from portland cant match (24.5) but marty responds with ‘homeland’ for a 27.8. side note– seen marty rip this over a dozen times, how she always finds the energy to do it amazes me. when she got to the penultimate stanza i had goosebumps on my neck, fo real!

der lovett (everybody’s new favorite) drops his god poem and helps to keep portland in the mix (27.3) t’ai retorts the ‘whole other thesis’ and keeps 13 in the lead (27.3) {one of the highlights of this trip was getting to know t’ai a bit more and really digging her whole vibe}

la comes back with another group piece as steve connell and javon declare what it means to be an american… i’m really starting to like steve’s poetry. their 28.8 shifts the lead to la.

till rog sets off the third round with the most ri-cock-ulous rendition of ‘song for trent lott’ that i have ever seen. losing his muthafuckin mind with some matrix torso twists, jumping up and down, pulling on his shirt and pants to where i thought he would rip his gear. it was a true A game and one that i doubt i’ll ever see again. i cant even use it to compare it to other performances in the future. just incredible and his 28.8 keeps 13 in the hunt.

la with ANOTHER group piece and the well starts to run dry as the whole teams jumps on stage and their theatrics cant hide the poem. ‘cereal’ is a great group piece about how commercialism keeps you a happy (unquestioning) citizen but i wonder how great it stands on its own?

portland fades into the distance at this point.

storm poet, pilot le hut, another french poet, just disrespected the crowd with his ‘i want to be a dragonfly’ piece. i say this cuz thats all he practically said the whole time on stage except to yell in french to say what jayme_d (local ytanslator)– the same fuckin thing! peace out, pilot.

it’s back to the last round again as la has an 83.8 and 13 is neck and neck with an 83.9

so what does la do? yep, back to the group piece! buddah hat & seikou drop a ‘sex poem’ that i have no memory of but am recalling a lot of cliches and slightly offensive braggin. the 26.3 says it all especially when you consider that the judges gave pilot a 26.4!

portland edged the score creep up up with tariya’s ‘all that i’ve forgotten’ poem with a 26.5. apologies to tariya as i was more focused on 13’s fate then her words. i was pulling for her to edge up the score creep, though.

and here comes lynne up to bat. all she needs is a 26.3 to win this for us. lynne can drop a 26.3 in her sleep but there is nothing set in stone when it comes to slam judging so i still got to take a deep breath.

side note– at one point, rog was going to go with a group piece but im guessing he changed his mind when la burnt out the novelty of the concept.

‘and if raheem can catch the past participle pieces of himself…’

yes, an excellent performance of ‘raheem’ that did what it had to do… bust

out a 27.1. i was still worried when the first score was an 8.8 but thats all right. prelim night 1 is over and 13 had their 1 ranking in place.

… damn, what a night. looking back i didnt realize just how close all the bouts were and how much good shit i heard. afterwards we wandered the streets of wicker park in great spirits and then found out that urbana also got a 1 rank. some tacos, horchata (a mexican cinnamon milk drink, yum!) and music made it even better. providence’s alixa garcia (an old face that i got to know better the night before at the team’s hotel party) made it even better with her travelling bottle of capt morgans. i was nice and toasty as i saw happy faces (team providence’s bernard dolan & jared) and some dissapointed folks (detriot’s blair was a bit down on his teams 2 rank) but nobody and i mean nobody had that ‘we was screwed’ mentality that was floating around last year at minneapolis.

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