Sarah Sherman

Nitty Gritty Slam #59, December 3

I had to go to this one, the “Dead Poets’ Slam,” just to see if anyone was going to read one of my poems. Phew, thankfully, not. It was a crowded Valentines because students in the College of St. Rose MFA program had a short fiction reading before the gathering for the Slam, & some hung around to read in the open mic &/or Slam, & have a headstart on the drinking. But the night seemed to flow along nicely — someone pointed out it was because Mojavi was not there to host the open mic.

Sarah Sherman

Poets reading in the open mic could read their own work & most did. Samson Dikeman started us off with a piece titled “Lincoln’s Day.” Jacky K. referenced Kerouac, Ginsberg & Lou Reed in a piece set at the Dead Poets Bar. Avery did his best to combine a guru with a motivational speaker in a performance on “padme hum.” Adam Tedesco said his poem was inspired by a dead poet, whom I think was Richard Brautigan. Kayla, who went on to become the loudest cheerleader during the Slam, read 2 short rhymes. Sarah Sherman‘s reading was an intense piece of journal writing, to a younger sister (?).

K.P. & Avery adjust the mic for James Fox (center)

It took a bevy of poets to adjust the mic for James Fox who then read about “The Little Blue Pill.” Juliet Barney performed the song from the movie The Jungle Book, “I want to be like you” (which took on greater significance as the night wore on, as you will see). Sparrow hung around after the short fiction reading to read what he called prose read as a poem, “Forget About It” — but then we never know where the line breaks are anyway. Justin read a gay fantasy about George Clooney. Marie Frankson challenged the mic stand in the other direction then was enthusiastic about “Monday Morning Coffee.” Kevin Peterson recited the “Unicorn” which had been a horrible pop song many years ago. Poetyc Visionz ran through a piece about women’s self-images, & as the Fugs once said, “it’s an old cliché but it’s an old cliché.” & that was That.

Algorhythm, Avery & Samson, Thom at the mic

It was a huge field, about 14, for the Dead Poets Slam, but ably moved along by el presidente Thom Francis. The poems ran the gamut from William Shakespeare (Marie Frankson) to William Bronk (Adam Tedesco), to Dr. Seuss (2 slammers, K.P. & Brian Dorn). Kim the bartender read from Mark Twain, & I channeled Lou Reed (“Pale Blue Eyes”). P.V. gave a spirited reading of Langston Hughes, as did Algorhythm of “Lower East Side” by Miguel Piñero. But the shocking surprise of the night was the number of “whigger” performances, in all 3 rounds. James Fox performed Tupac, & Justin read “Judgment Day” by James Weldon Johnson, one of the few poems not originally a song. But Avery & Samson, together & separately, did everything but put on black-face: Samson did Gil-Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” & Lord Buckley on Julius Caesar, while the only dead poet Avery could find was Jimi Hendrix — twice. But, hey, it worked — Avery was #1, Algorhythm 2nd & Samson 3rd.

For now, the Nitty Gritty Slam is at Valentines on New Scotland Ave. the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month. Pay at the door.