Nitty Gritty Slam, October 4

This is probably the best documented poetry event in Albany, if not in the wide world of poetry. It is live-streamed & pod-cast & photographed & tweeted & Blogged. So what am I doing? Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away (or at least in a punk club across the Park) I was the only guy with a camera & a pocket notebook, recording the images of the poets on film & the titles of the poems they read with a pen. Now I am just another redundant recorder of digital data. It has posed to me a dilemma — what to record that isn’t available in the links I provide?

A judge’s office

Well, obviously, what that is is my own reactions, my own experiences. First of all, I was touched by Bless‘ poem in the open mic segment (the only open mic poet, not counting Slam Bastard Dain Brammage) confronting the essential element of a Slam. Or as novelist Walter Mosley described it, “a world where poetry is a contest at best & a competition at worst.” And Bless is one who should (& does) know.

In one of the night’s ironies & a lesson in Slam-rules, Brett Axel, as the sacrificial poet/lamb/goat (used to calibrate the judges scoring) read a poem for which he received a “0” because it was not his own — one must perform one’s own original work. & I was pleased with my own performance in the 1st round of the Slam: 21.1 points, good enough for 5th place. Gradually creeping up in the scoring.

Dain Brammage, Rain Dan, Victorio & Shannon Shoemaker

It was great to see Shannon Shoemaker make it into the money once again (although not into the final round). She has been doing very well in each Slam so far with her angst-ridden lost-love poems that I’ve enjoyed hearing at open mics for years.  It was Victorio‘s first time here, but not surprising that he made it into the final round. He is an accomplished performer of powerful political rants in Spanish as well as in English, with music or without. Meanwhile tonight’s winner, Rain Dan, is a novice to the scene & even performed in the final round by reading his poem rather than reciting it from memory.

And one must to give credit to those poor folks who show up to enjoy a night of poetry & get roped into being a judge, suffering the slings & arrows of the performers & other audience members as well. Meanwhile the crew of works hard to record, tabulate, calculate & moderate the 6.3s, 8.1s & 9.9s.

Valentine’s is on New Scotland Ave. in Albany, NY, & the Slam is on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays, as long as folks keep showing up.

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