My 1st Slam win !!!

So last night I went to the 3rd ever Semantix Guelph Poetry Slam! It's nice having a slam so close to home. It's a little unique from other slams I've been to in a few ways. First, there is no open mic. Normally there are a few slots for people not interested in competing or being scored for their creation and performance of it. Second, there is only 1 round. So there isn't a lot of strategizing. You have to come out the gate swinging if you want to win. Third, there are only 3 judges and all their scores count. So if someones friend is a judge that means you can get a higher score without actually earning it.

It's unique in a good way though. It's a quick & dirty, wham, bam, thank you ma'am way of doing it. There's no messing around it's just down to business! Not to mention that the venue itself is pretty dope.

Getting to win was a good feeling. I'd like to thank Livingston though. Originally I was planning to do another piece, but her comments on Facebook about the poem I performed at the Burlington Slam ("Punctuated Hate For The Man") made me decide to switch poems. Good thing too. All 3 judges gave me a 9.something. So I knew right away that I won. After Dave Silverberg's feature performance (I love the Egg Nog poem even more now) they called on stage to give me the prize... a medium pizza w/ 3 toppings for Toppers Pizza & a book of poetry by Saul Williams called "The Dead Emcee Scrolls". OH.. and Dave gave me a pack of Pop Rocks I'm eating right now!!

Since Guelph tapes all the performances I will be able to share the actual performance with you soon via YouTube. In the meantime you can find me on cloud nine!



How To Win A Poetry Slam

A: Don't care about winning.

Okay, so it's slightly oversimplified. More & more I'm realizing that it's the community that poetry slams such a draw. Last night at the Burlington Slam Project there were only 4 slammers (myself included). So I thought that, despite the fact that both of the pieces were new and going to be read off the page, I might have a slim chance of winning my first slam. The first poem I did was called "Puntuated Hate For The Man". With it I sang in a performance for the first time. I got my first 10 at a slam (mind you it was my wife who gave me the score). The poem I did for the second round is a very new piece called "Why Do I Do What I Do". In this poem I ponder out loud why I try to write & perform poetry. Near the end I get humble by asking not to get a score above 4 before asking for no scores. I close the piece by asking for the audiences heart instead. Because "I Do What I Do" in order to share my heart with them.

In the end my total score was 52.3. I was just .9 points behind the winner, Yogi, who got 53.2 points. Upon reflection I think I should have done one of my more polished pieces (Double Double) and go for a higher score with more performance. But it probably wouldn't have been enough. Yogi had an amazing second round score with a poem about his hands.

All of this, belive it or not, leads me back to my original reason for this post: How To Win A Poetry Slam. Even though I want to win a slam, my original answer does make sense. It's about focus. Slowly but surely my focus is shifting. A little less on winning the slam (& of course the prize money) and a little more on improving my poetry and relationships with other poets.


Slam Nation

So just the other day I finally got my Slam Nation DVD in the mail. I watched it... of course. I thought the filming would have been of a slightly higher calibre.

It was nice to finally see the man behind the name of Marc Smith, the Slam Papi. Despite the fact that he 'said' he was open to slam being an evolving art form he seemed to work hard at remaining at the helm. Although the meetings were democratic in nature it seemed to me like he played his 'founding father' card in order to direct the vote towards his preference.

Don't get it twisted. I don't think I like Taylor Mali's personality. He is WAY too into himself. I DO like his poetry. Moreover, I agree with his strategy. Why can't you switch up who goes when & does what? In a competition it only makes sense to make your best play when the game is on the line.

I think Slam is big enough for both competitors & purists. So why were the purists so seriously confused? It might not be cut throat competition but it IS a competition. Each poem is scored and the highest score wins.

So when Saul Williams, Marc Smith, and others got all in a snit about people being strategic about a competition I found it laughable. Perhaps it's even MORE laughable that he later became the head of PSi (Poetry Slam Inc), the governing body of the National Poetry Slam competition.

I did like Beau Sia (sp?). The guy was intense and funny. I guess my favourite reveals my bias though... the Vancouver team. I've actually had occasion to meet Alexandra Oliver (AKA the home-wrecker).

I guess my question is... why is it that only the slick production of HBO's Def Poetry show does a decent job at capturing great poets perfroming great poems with great video & audio?