Seattle Poetry Slam, 4/27

Hello Blog Readers,

My apology for the late post on this slam update! My return home from tour left me with an impressive backlog of business. Enjoy!

Hi, slam fans! In the wake of all the Grand Slam excitement, Slammaster Daemond Arrindel decided to have a low-key night the following week. Instead of our usual open mic, feature, and slam format, we had open mic , feature, open mic and showcase of the newly formed Seattle Slam Team 2010, featuring Maya Hersh, Rocky Berinstein, and our Editor-in-Chief of Finneyfrock Slam News, Ms. Karen herself! Tara Hardy was unfortunately too sick to make it last night, still nursing her Grand Slam ails. Feel better, Tara!

The night kicked off with six open-micers (does anyone else read that as ‘mice-r?’ I do.)

Cedar opened up with an address to a beloved with nice pacing and the line “kneeling prayers in the dirt.” I haven’t seen Cedar’s work before – come back again!

Scuffs Mentality was up next, a first timer on the open mic! Yay! His piece included a nice reference to Milan Kundera, and included a lot of vomit imagery. Props to him for having his piece memorized his first time out. One note to Scuffs: try opening your eyes, man! Good work!

Sandi Strehlau followed with “A New Kind of Crush,” a piece about internet love in the digital age (are we still in the digital age? Have we moved on to iAge, yet?) Complete with references to font! Love it.

Danny Sherrard tiptoe torpedoed to the stage next, and opened with some lines that could’ve been intro or could’ve been banter, about drinking. Lots of imagery around dreams, and frank discussion of drinking nicely woven. “I have been through apocylapses and it is not the end of the world” stuck hard with me.

Llama John joins the Seattle stage from a history that includes the Nuyorican Poet’s Café and…twelve years in a Buddhist monastery? Cool! He was also one of the tight judges at the Grand Slam on Sunday – thank you for your service, sir! John’s piece, “Bisexualia” got some nice audience love.

Jack McCarthy closed out the first half of the open mic with a poem about swans. You kinda had to be there, but let me tell you, it was Jack approaching his finest.

Mighty Mike McGee has a slew of titles as long as my arm – National Slam Champion. IWPS Champion. Multiple team memberships. Founder of the Kitchen Sessions, commonly recognized as one of the best informal readings to have existed in the history of, well, ever. To these, I’d add that McGee is my perpetual Spirit of the Slam Award winner. He’s the kind of guy who remembers your name, hugs like a bear, and wants to hear your story. He pushes poets to get on the road and tour, to make connections, to contribute to the greater conversation. He’s a dynamic fuzzbear.

And his features are kind of like hanging out in the Dairy Queen parking lot at ten o’clock at night with all your best friends, seeing what the funniest among you can come up with. With such pieces as “Hippie Chicks,” “Her Cat Must be Awesome,” “Pudding” and an ode to cunnilingus, McGee had the audience rolling. You know the giant block-thing I sit on in the back of the room? Yeah, I fell off it laughing. Literally.

It should be noted, at this point, that one of McGee’s other greatnesses is his grace and lack of diva attitude. It being the week after the grand slam and all, Re-Bar was quiet. Maybe half the seats were full. Yet, McGee filled the place with energy, humble and delightful. His new piece (there we go again, Seattle!), which had been written in our fair neighbor, Spokane, titled “on pitting all your achievements against loneliness,” talked about the need to travel, and, well, the loneliness of the road. Again, with the seasoned performers getting raw and vulnerable with us! Pat yourselves on the back, Seattle!

McGee finished out his set with “Lullaby,” his only piece set to music. It’s an anthem, a triumph piece, an invocation, a promise. It’s a letter to my generation saying “you can do it.” Absolutely golden. Thank you, Mister McGee.

Round two of the open mic kicked off with Aaron, a fresh-faced newbie from Hawai’i! His piece was also about the island state, a mix of history, current politics, and manifesto. Welcome, sir!

Thomas Hard pushed the limits of typical open mic audience participation by getting half a dozen audience members up on the stage and clapping as he sang/spoke a piece about the role of music in his grandparents’ lives. I immediately wanted to do my piece about music in my grandparents’ lives, just for the joy of the conversation. I love it when that happens. Nice work sir!

Marita followed with a piece from her 30 poems in 30 days (NaPoWriMo – National Poetry Writing Month) project. “I am the ocean,” she wrote. “I am making myself palmable.” Love that line, and good luck with the rest of NaPo!

Lisa Walls, a favorite here at the slam, stepped up with “you are a gift,” a set of instructions. My favorite line “rubbernecking at linguistic accidents is encouraged.” Awesome!

Miranda came up with a be-bop flirt poem. Which is now my new favorite phrase. Nice construction, good use of sound.

Dan did a piece for which I was mostly in the bathroom. Whoops! I came back in time to hear “We raise a glass to the foolish gifts of cavemen” – nice!

Dane Kuttler – I did some of my own new stuff, out of my 365 poems in 365 days project, about the formation of a relationship between a woman in a DP camp, and her future husband, an Air Force pilot. The best part? Hearing Karen Finneyfrock say “Yeahhh” in that way she does when you know she likes something forreal.

Allioson Durazzi finished us out with a snappily written scene between workers on a boat. A fun way to end the mic, and something kinda different!

We closed the night with a showcase from the new team! It was awesome to hear Karen Finneyfrock bust out new work – the piece about Applachia rocked me hard – and Rocky Bernstein bust out her singing voice (I think about five people audibly gasped at the first note) and Maya Hersh bust out stuff we don’t often hear from her (“Working Class Lullaby” may be my new favorite piece of hers). I think this team is going to have a lot of narrative strength – they’re a group of storytellers, largely. They’ve all got national-level experience, and have distinct stage presences, despite having so much in common (strong writing, general hotness). Good luck, women! It’s going to be a hummingbird summer, let me tell you. Fast and precious.

Signing off,
~Dane Kuttler

Finneyfrock Slam News Correspondent


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