Mary Panza

Panza’s Nitty Gritty Take on Slam

I was brought up in the Albany poetry scene on open mics. Slams were something completely out there to me. In many ways, they are still a vague concept to me. When the idea for the Nitty Gritty Slam was brought up last summer I thought “Freaking great. I hate slams.” I didn’t have to say a word. My silence spoke volumes. Actually, the gentlemen completely ignored me. Whatever. Then there was the conversation about format of the slam. I had already gone to the happy place in my head where I am a size 6 and Ben and Jerry are fighting for my hand in marriage. Then the conversation turned to everything slam. “I am in poetry hell”, I thought to myself. I comforted myself with this thought; slam could expand the poetry community. It was for the greater good. I would have to swallow this shit pill.

But then…

The first slam rolled around. I have to go to great lengths sometimes to get to events. I have to make sure dinner is made, homework is done, pj’s are on and the babysitter is not a psychopath. Mom stuff. I was lucky enough to have Aunt Alex babysit that night for me. I got to Valentine’s and felt like I didn’t have a place in the team. The others seemed to know what they were doing setting up sound, getting people signed up, and organizing chaos. I had no idea what to do. So I pouted and decided to work the door and just watch. I don’t like this. Too much change at once for me. What I love (open mics) are obsolete. Worse than that: a joke. Things got started and I lived through it. Then something great happened. The slam folks came out to Poets Speak Loud. It happened and kept happening. Holy shit! The community was growing again. New blood inspiring the old blood.


I am still not completely won over on the whole slam thing. I do however love that it grew our community.

That will be $5 please. $3 with valid college id.

About The Author