Stephen Roberts

Nitty Gritty Slam #69, May 6

One shouldn’t rest on one’s laurels, they tend to get all crinkled & crushed, so I came back to the Low Beat for more Slam to refresh them, & celebrate my favorite number — & Kim the Bartender’s birthday. First the open mic, hosted by Kevin Peterson.

First up was a virgin, Jordan Roberts, with a series of short-line rhymes titled “Lazy Summer Days.” Metroland Readers’ Poll Best Poet, Brian Dorn, followed with a political piece “No Comment.” Miss S. read a couple of short pieces “Damned Beggar” & “Chocolate is Legal.” Emily Gonzalez’s poems were built around memories, “Where it All Begins” filled with music & ghosts, & “Moon Goddess.”

Stephen Roberts has been making this a regular stop & read “Roses are Friends” & the short put-down “Satisfaction.” Bless recited from memory one of my favorites, beginning “The sweet sensual sound of the saxophone…” on music & self-destruction. Sarah hasn’t been around in a while, also recited from memory, a plea to “leave me alone.” Kaheim completed the from-memory trio with a conversation with Dr. Strangelove.

Then right into the Slam, with el presidente Thom Francis as our MC & Kevin Peterson as the score-keeper (& one of the judges). Bless, as the sacrificial/calibrating poet, performed his poem where a gun is the persona. There were 5 of us in the 1st round, with me in the unenviable #1 spot, reading my tribute to Bob Kaufman’s poem “Believe, Believe,” scoring a decent 26.4. Then the predictable “score-creep” crept in with Samson, Jordan Roberts, Billy Buchanan & Elizag each scoring successively higher. But — Jordan lost a point for using his beer as a prop, & so I survived the round & he didn’t. It was the first time in anyone’s memory at Nitty Gritty Slam that a performer was penalized for using a prop, & it was simply Jordan’s inexperience.

Stephen Roberts filled in for a beer & pee break reading haikus & other short poems, then round 2. Elizag began with her engaging questionnaire, “Are You Working Class?” followed by Billy with a love poem, & Samson with one about laughter. But I was able to score one of my rare 10s (but it got dropped anyway) with a bit of outrageousness, “Homage to Lesbians” & won that round!

Photo by Emily Gonzalez

So it was Elizag & me toe-to-toe in the final round, with me leading off with my parody “Slam Poem.” Elizag countered with “Dear Young People” (on aging), & when the complicated math was completed I had won with a margin of 0.1 point — Samson was our 3rd place poet. Must’ve been the 69 (I was in the class of ’69 at SUNY Albany). It was good thing too, since I had forgotten to get cash before heading to the Slam & needed the beer money.

The Nitty Gritty Slam, with an open mic, is each 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month at The Low Beat on Central Ave.  Check for details.