Monday, August 22, 2005

National Poetry Slam...damn. Day Two too

Woke up. s/s/s.
hit club floor and grubbed. talked with lieutenant dan. (nickname for Dan Vaughn of team Milwaukee, who was in the same THEy should post what happened with them. one could learn alot from their time a t nats alone. almost enough to rival the original slamnation tape)

the driver from Hotel blue picked me up and took me to hotel Blue. Was very nice since he was not supossed to do that. Extra cool points since the driver was the hotel MANAGER. even more brownie points because he pointed out spots, gave insight to the area, talked football (he used to work with my Bengals head coach back in the day at a gym) and even went as far as to give me his cell phone number and a code to put in when i needed him to come to the hotel he wasn't supossed to come to (though again, my hotel was kick ass, it had no shuttle..uppity folks).

Hit ground zero and met with cats from columbus. Had about a two to five minute talk about strategy for that nights bout. We had the late bout so I went to catch another bout. (was supporting the Milwaukee team this year and hung out with a few of the members)
Turns out their bout was literally next door to ours, so it was perfect.

Now I know this sounds strange. Shouldn't I be with my team and talk,chill, etc.?
Nope. Our coach had made our strategy pretty clear back at the hotel and it left little room for discussion. He was the coach and what he said would go. that is the coaches job and to trust him is paramount. So you nod, put in your ten cents where you feel it is needed and go from there.
To disagree at that point or try radical solutions, whatever, is not logical nor will it be implemented. Hell, at that point, it shouldn't be.

I get over to our venue and Scott has picked a campsite for us to chill. I ain't really feeling the whole sit down thing and the place is on its' way to being just stupid packed, so I stand by the table, withing earshot if needed.

This bout in my opinion, was one of the toughest bouts of the first two nights and definitely the toughest of the first night.
Everyone with semifinal experience (recent)
A couple with finals experiecne (very recent)
Several grand slam champs on the same damn teams (ouch)
Very poet heavy crowd (ouch for a later reason)

The judges were very low scoring but i will not complain about that. Most judges tend to be a little too high scoring in my opinion so it balances out.
Besides, if the parameters are 0-10 then 5 is average, 6 or 7 is above average and 8 or 9 is mindblowing. A 10 would be technically impossible unless the judge gave it out and never gave out another one and knew in advance in their heart of hearts that no matter what they heard, they wouldn't give another one out. But that is a philosophical debate.
Anywho, what is important is that they were rock solid consistant for the entire night.
One cat got a score a few points higher than everyone else (deservedly so considering what he read compared to what had happened up to that point in the night), and right after his poem the scores returned back to where they had been.
Now to people I heard walking around afterward saying, "Well normally that is a 29.8 poem. I don't know how I got a 25 with it" I say this; who told you that poem was a 29.8 to begin with?
Since when did poems come in with a locked in predetermined score? If that is the case, couldn't you just say, "Hey, I am going to read my poem called___ and it always gets about a___. So how about I skip reading it and you just give me the score I usually average out to get."
(now i use 29.8 as an example but you get the point)

We ALL are used to getting something in some typical range if we have used the poem a few times in the past. BUT, the moment we scream highway robbery when a random stranger disagrees with your past populist vote count? Take some time off of slam.
And I have been guilty of this myself, lest someone think this is the high and mighty route. But I shut up, got that 'i been robbed' shit out of my head, and redoubled my efforts for next time.

Now to address something I said further up-
And this goes out to no one in particular but everyone in general-
If you are a poet at a team type slam, whether you are on a team or not, you should show love to every goddmaned poet who reads in that slam, regardless of where they are from, or who they are. If the poem rocks, it rocks. If you honestly don't like it, that's one thing. Then don't clap or smile or show love as that would be hypocritical and make you out to be a liar. (enough of those in slam already)
But if you dig the poem, it should not matter if that person is from your hometown or not, your homestate or not, your venue or not, a friend or not, or if that persons great poem just knocked your team, teammates, or buddies out the fucking box.
Show respect for the craft and work that went into the piece if not the poet themselves.

I have been the first to hug, kiss, applaud, scream my freaking head off-for another teams poet even if they just whupped my teams ass-I could care less if I liked the piece.

The word 'bitch' has very few proper uses in modern english language.
However, if you "vacuum" a crowd, (the slang/slam term for taking the energy out of a room to affect a poets/teams score), that to me is exactly what you are and will foever be in my eyes.
A poem is forthcoming about you and your types, believe it.

For those not savvy on the slam-slang tip, let's say there are 5 teams in a bout. you are on one of those teams. Each of those teams brings along at least 5 people in tow on the team and another 5 as friends/supporters. Now when one team goes up, they whoop and holler like the Jesus is back for round three. They clap and stomp and scream for "10's" from the judges.
Now one of your poets go up. You notice they get each others attention. They shush each other up. Not a one claps. No screams. No comraderie in the way of "good luck". They drop their heads. They all begin clearing their throats, rolling their eyes, yawning.
You still read your poem.
You move the actual audience members.
But you're in hte lead by 1/10 or behind by just 1/2 a point.
So when you finish your poem and walkoff stage, only the actual audience applauds. The majority of the room is filled with competing poets and their friends and they are totally silent.
So the energy of the room changes.
The volume and quantity of the cheers and claps decreases dramatically, therefore making those few who do applaud quiet themselves faster than they otherwise would have.
Now to the judges who don't see all this but can HEAR the change, you must've slipped up.
That poem can't have really been all that good, otherwise they would have heard more of a ruckus.
Your score is lower than it should have been by no controlling factor of your own.
Others call this the 'entourage effect'

I call it being a bitch.

Again, if you don't like the piece, that's one thing. everyone is entitled to not like something.
But to intentionally tell or expect people to keep quiet devalues not only the poets score, but the morale and act of brotherhood that people have fought and literally died trying to instill in slam.

I say, if you want to do that, then make it known. You and your team, friends, entourages, etc., all of you get up and walk out while another team reads. Or turn your chairs around. Or turn your backs.

Or, I know, show love no matter what.

Or, maybe, write a better frickin' poem.

Agree with the masses and be just another body of mass.
Stand on your own and become an entity.

More soon on day one and two and three and so on...

(by the way, i am not saying it happened in our day one bout. hell, we pulled a two so if it did, then how great is that? But I am saying it happens far to frequent and I did see it at another teams bout and have seen it in years past in ones i have been a part of or just witnessed in others bouts)
that said, if i ain't calling you out, then don't be offended.