So I’m clairvoyant. Admittedly, I did not predict the final five stupid minutes of Battlestar Gallactica-seriously, a montage of 80’s-style robots break dancing to Jimi Hendrix’s verson of All Along the Watchtower-did someone get fired for this?
But, I did drive to the slam last night thinking about how excited I was to see our feature Khary Jackson, also known as 6 is 9. Then, I started thinking about how much I like his stage name and about other stage names I like, and how I should write a blog about poets and their stage names. Then I thought, “My favorite stage name ever is Morris Stegosaurus.” I walked into the slam and who do I see, sitting with Chris, wearing a rabbit hat with floppy ears but Morris Stegosaurus! Clairvoyant.
Morris just moved back to Seattle, which means that Seattle slam is about to get a whole lot better/weirder. Morris is a gifted writer who will do just about anything on stage. I hope he signs up for Iron Poet, our next specialty slam.
Morris performed in the open mike last night along with another special out of town guest Janelle Wilson from Boise Slam who celebrated her birthday here. We had an otherwise great open mike with several new voices.
Then our feature, Khary Jackson (6 is 9) performed. I really got to experience Khary’s work at the Individual World Poetry Slam this year in North Carolina where he took 3rd place! He amazed me in every performance that week, fully earning his win. Last night, I heard almost all new poems from him and was equally blown away. More than half way through the feature, I thought, “I’ve never heard any of these poems. What is going on here?”
Khary’s feature was so tight, so well written and well performed, it is really difficult for me to choose a favorite. I do want to talk about Khary’s poem regarding Martin Luther King, though. In early parts of the poem, Khary exposes little known and highly explosive information about MLK that is entirely shocking for most audiences. This information heavily calls into question the personal character of one of our most important American heros. Then, he goes on to question the business of making men into gods and why our heros can’t act like men. This is such a powerful poem. It leaves the well-tread area of reinforcing popular opinion that is common in spoken word and flies right into the face of controversy in a way that feels necessary. I consider this to be an important piece in the catalog of spoken word poetry.
I was equally amazed by the love poem Khary wrote for a woman with cancer. He found the one thing a man can do for a woman facing possible death from a disease that her family can’t do and her doctor can’t do and her friends can’t do. This love poem has the feeling of being written by a real, grown-up man rather than many of the idealistic boy-style love poems we get at the slam. Honestly, I could rave on. I knew I would love this feature and I did.
Now, the slam.
This was our second-to-last open slam of the season. That means, next week is the last chance to qualify for the last semi-final before the Grand Slam. Get on it folks!
sac: Maya Hersh did a new poem still on the page that brought the house down. I think WOWps energized some poets!
1. Jon Greenberg: This poem was great and Buddy Wakefield concurred with me on that. Jon is a teacher and a lot of his students end up at YouthSpeaks and Hugo House in youth writing programs. They rave about him. His poem was about teaching. The only reason he didn’t go to round 2 was the old issue of going first. 23.5
2. Jason Quackenbush: So great to have Jason back! This poem was exceptional. Honest writing from a man about desire. Should have scored higher. 22.0
3. Sarah Sapienza: Sarah forgot part of her new poem because she is just getting it off page. She is adorable when she gets flustered. Very cute! 22.5
4. St. Even: Steven did the new poem about the skiing accident. He is really opening up on stage as a performer! 24.9
5. Greg Bee: A poem regarding “write what you know.” Well performed. Classic Greg. 24.4
6. Vanessa: A piece about volunteering at the humane society and how abused dogs behave. This poem had some of the best moments in the show last night. An excellent piece. 24.3
7. Buddy Wakefield: You know, when you’ve got someone in the slam who opens for Ani Defranco and toured with Sage Francis, how can you compete with that? Buddy was hot last night. This first poem was new for me and I LOVED it. 26.6
8. Shae: I’ve never seen Shae before. I enjoyed his poem and I hope he comes back. 22.2
9. Dain Michael Down: Dain’s poem about a first kiss. The audience loved it! 25.7
1. Dain: “…kids wrapped in high tension wires…” 24.7
2. Buddy: “Guitar Repair Woman” 27.8
3. Vanessa: “things are not things” 24.5
4. Greg Bee: “they broke the mold when they made you” 25.7
5. St. Even: “what defines you?” 25.7
In the end, it came down like this:
1st place= Greg Bee
2nd place= Buddy Wakefield
3rd place= St. Even
Good work fellas. I was beginning to worry about the men in this town. The women have been holding it down at the slam for a while now.
Tonight, go see Yusef Komunyakaa at Benaroya Hall! More information at Seattle Arts and Lectures.