Every once in a while, I really get that deep urge to write about poetry slam but the urge goes by the way side quickly when I keep in mind some key plus and minus points:
(+) I did slam for almost two years in NYC (one of the most competitive scenes in the country).
(-) I did moderately well in those slams.
(+) I qualified for the Semi-Finals at Bar13 louderARTS.
(-) I came in dead last at that Semi-Final bout
(+) but experienced duende on stage for the first time.
(+) Received two invitations to compete at the Friday night slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café.
(-) Came in second-to-last place both times.
(+) Slammaster for two years at louderARTS.
(-) I became slammaster because of my ability to compute numbers, remembering which poems were performed over the course of a year and getting in timely paperwork; it had very little to do with my mastery over slam. And Yes, I think the title is silly sounding.
(+) Coaching Team Acentos for the NYC Regional Slam in 2003, 04 and 05.
(+) Team Acentos consistently delivering great poems that worked on and off the slam stage.
(+) Connecting with poets from across the country at the National Poetry Slam (NPS).
(+) Road tripping to my first NPS in 2002.
(+) In my first year at NPS, sac-goating (Slam jargon for a non-competing poet who is judged first in order to give the judge and audience an idea of what the scoring process is like) for a San Francisco vs Chicago vs Boston vs Los Angeles bout.
(+) Hosting an NPS bout.
(+) Being included in the 2003 NPS Poetry Anthology.
(-) Enduring through a ton of bad slam poems in order to heard one good poem.
(Double -) Griping to the choir about said bad poems.
(+) Being invited to be a part of the Rules Committee for the 2005 NPS.
(-) As member of said committee, witnessing first hand the petty arguments concerning the competition.
Luckily, that last negative is not my last image of Nationals or slam. For the most part, my memories involve a lot of good camaraderie and some damn good poems. And of those good poems, only a very few are mine which is why I walked away from slam, it wasn’t helping me write better poems.
Uhhhm, looks like I did write that post about slam after all. ;-)
Well, if you want some more insights regarding the National Poetry Slam from some one who actually made a slam team, appeared on Def Poetry, is widely anthologized and an adjunct lecturer in creative writing at Rutgers University, then you should check out Tara Bett’s guest post over at Tayari Jones’ spot.