National Poetry Slam 2007

Austin is hot — once again. I mean the thermostat in the car read 108 one day. That’s hotter than a match head, as the saying goes.

For the first time in a few years, Cleveland sent a team. They are a young team with lots to learn about reading the audience, but they performed well the first night taking their bout. They took a third place in the second bout, but that was enough to get them into the semi-finals since the new rules allow 25 teams to compete instead of the old 16. Unfortunately, that’s where they ended their Slam experience, but everyone was hugging and smiling. I think they’ll be back.

For me, there were three poems that made the event worthwhile. Titles are never announced, but the gist of the pieces was this — Buddy Unicorn’s piece about the death of his mother that can be heard here: (rated adult for language and content)
From the same team (NYC Louder Arts) Rachel’s piece about being (obviously) pregnant in an uncertain world and her commitment to go down fighting and finally Denver. This is the Denver team that won last year and in my mind had THE most memorable group piece, If you see something, Say Something about immigration. Very powerful. But this year’s piece for five voices was even better — a prayer, a plea to God, voices begging please let it be negative, help me, some humorous, some hideous, all painfully personal. Perfectly executed and choreographed, it was the highlight of the entire 80 team, 400 poet event for me. (not that I saw everyone, no one could have).

Here’s the truth. I didn’t even go to the indi finals following this match. These pieces moved me so much that I was emotionally spent.

Last year I was featured as a legend at the Slam, this year I just went to listen. Listening is good. Hopeful. No matter how dark the poet’s piece is — some THING has happened to that writer and he/she/they’ve recorded the happening and are still standing to deliver. That is hopeful.

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