Thursday, January 05, 2006

Word Play -- New Shit!

Mikaela glows:
Last night was a GREAT night for poetry in Albuquerque. Sorry I didn't post a warning to get your ass up and trek downtown for the best slam I've seen in a long time! (And I just got back from New York, where I even peeked in on the scene at the Nuyorican, which I found sorely disappointing, by the way.)

Albuquerque, I remembered how good you were, but the last few slams I've been to here have seemed, well, perfunctory. Maybe it was the let-down after the high of Nationals, or maybe I had just had my fill. Or maybe you got too sucked in to what everyone else in the country was doing, and felt you had to either be like them or perform shit you knew would score well.

Last night, all that changed, thanks to the New Shit Slam, hosted by Don McIver and Eric B. That's right, new shit! Let me just say, I never saw such nervous, gun-shy slammers. Don had to sign some people up without their consent, so high was their fear of performing non-tried-and-true pieces. But let me say this: the poetry was BETTER!

There's a certain screening of work that happens when performance poets choose the pieces to slam with. Usually they go with the hardest-hitting subjects. Race and rape score high with the judges. Last night, these guys had to read the shit that poets just write as a result of their days, their cultures, their lives. And surprise surprise -- they're poets! With crystalline perception and keen insight! Go fucking figure. I was so proud to see it. Proud of my community. Proud of them.

And it was a damn fine show! Don and Eric chose "Boston-style" slam, which means performers go head to head each round, with only 8 poets. So every two performances, someone gets eliminated. Such drama! And poets get all caught up in the pairing. Oh please, oh please, don't let me have to face Tony Santiago! Let me just get through the first round!

I was especially impressed with Damien Flores, who wrote a gorgeous piece featuring the Rio Grande. Hakim's first piece had the audience spell-bound, although his second piece, running to over 5 minutes (slam poems are limited to 3 minutes 10 seconds before penalty points are subtracted from your score!) lost the crowd's focus. Lee had some of the best stuff I've heard from him. Tony was fabulously funny, as always, with an especially crowd-pleasing poem slamming Bill O'Reilly (highlight: "You're a dick, Bill. That's right, capital D-U-M-B-A-S-S: dick."

The open mic was just as good, with an incredible poem by Angela Williams on the miners that were just killed. She linked her own family's history of coal-mining in New Mexico and the struggle against labor organizing, which could have saved lives of countless miners over the years, because America doesn't need unions, right? "Tell me this is not 2006," she writes. Jazz performed a killing piece on listening to a neighbor playing piano through the wall. Adam read a sensuous poem from his soon-to-be-for-sale book of one-a-day poems. Don read a moving piece that, unless I'm mistaken, was actually illuminating of his life!

The features were a touring team of Paulie and Alexander, who took turns at the mic wowing the crowd.

I could go on and on. The point being this: I had a great night of POETRY AT A SLAM! So many poems that I want to get my hands on because they were that good. It almost made me want to do it myself! And that's saying a LOT.

The next don't miss event is the slam hosted by Tony and Lee, the last Friday of the month at the Blue Dragon coffee house. They're shaking up the slam format with actual entertainment. Come see for yourself what that means.


Anonymous Jessie said...

Damn! And I actually spent last night on my couch, thinking there was nothing to do... *sigh*

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't forget that pair of ex-DC Bay Area-transplants, Christian and Laura, who won the slam and open mic prizes, respectively.

"baby, I will make love to you until we look like a warzone."

3:01 AM  
Blogger mjae said...

How could I forget?
"Baby, I will use my submarine to search for Red October, parting the waters in your red sea."

1:30 PM  

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