Olivia McKee

Nitty Gritty Slam — Open Mic Night, October 4

I finally made it back to one of the twice-monthly Nitty Gritty Slam poetry nights at The Low Beat. Tonight it was an open mic & I got there just as our host, Amani, was performing one of her pieces.

Poetik followed with a piece about being an outsider, then on to the enthusiastic “Hair Story.” One of Dina’s poems was titled “The Great Disillusionment” about the need to come back to ourselves, another, “Our Lady of Victory I Hear the Warrior Cry” was inspired by a visit to a church in Hudson. Claire read a trio of short pieces from a couple of big notebooks, about apples, potatoes & getting distracted. Illiptical, former member of the Nitty Gritty Slam team, was one of the only 2 guys to read tonight (the other was me), read 2 political rants full of noise & spit & spirit, “Consciousness Conformity” & a piece in solidarity with native people “Spirit of Kin.”

Leneea was uncertain about her titles, the first maybe titled “Death by Life,” then the not-so-sad “Love,” & the self-affirmative (maybe titled) “Trees.” I followed with an old piece from 3 Guys from Albany performances “I Thought I Saw Elvis” then a poem with a (hopefully) short expiration date “When Donald Trump Farts.” Marea did an a cappella song on racism.

The featured poet tonight, Olivia McKee, is a Slam performer with many of the signature slam mannerisms & phrasings, as in her first piece, “Drink” written for a friend. From there to a poem written today about a waterfall in her hometown, seen as a mother figure, then a piece on the New Age contradiction of a racist “hippy-man.” A piece on Israel’s “Birth Right” program was her most political piece, then she ended with 2 pieces on sisterhood, oppresion & speaking out as a woman, including her singing a bit of a hymn. A good performer with good material, not constrained by Slam conventions.

During the reading there were a couple, maybe 3, group poems/“exquisite corpses” circulating among the audience, readers & non-readers, to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was adding a line to a poem that I’d already written on. At the end Amani read one, then called up other poets to read the others. As the Surrealists of the 1920s found out, the randomness spinning on thin lines of connectivity are elements that many great poems are woven from.

The Nitty Gritty Slam takes place at The Low Beat on Central Ave. in Albany, NY on the 1st Tuesday (open mic) & 3rd Tuesday (Slam) of each month — pick your poison, or overdose on both.


This post originally appeared on Dan Wilcox‘s blog on Thursday, October 6, 2016.