Enjoy Dane Kuttler’s post mortem on last week’s Seattle Poetry Slam!
Hey slam fans! This week was one of the best shows I’ve seen all year – Jeanann Verlee returned to the Seattle stage to grace us with her knobbly pink-stocking-ed silver-fingered self. A major fixture in the New York City scene, and one of Urbana’s organizers-in-chief, Jeanann has made a name for herself on a number of national stages. Her feature was glorious, smooth, and powerful – not that you’d expect anything less from an Independent Publisher’s Book Award silver medalist. Yes, Jeanann’s debut book from Write Bloody Press, Racing Hummingbirds has already made a splash on the national scene.
Jeanann didn’t banter much between pieces, letting a quiet solemnity settle over the crowd. She opened with “The Telling,” which introduced a series of themes – namely, how craziness manifests in language, and in relationships. It’s heavy with the horrifying, visceral, surreal imagery that marks Jeanann’s work. Following with her popular piece, “Communion,” Jeanann paused to comment on the work of one brave open mic-er, then proceeded to use the same refrain – “my body is” – in a poem addressed to the speaker’s father. “My body is a wafer, a thin soft melt on a choirboy’s tongue.” See what I mean about the imagery, people? This is masterful work. I’m shivering in retrospect.
The rest of the feature – “carnivores,” “men,” “lessons on loving a prophet,” “the dolls,” a new piece (yeah, Seattle!) and “the session,” flew by. She had the audience completely riveted, and thanked us warmly at the end. Choice lines include:
“The cooks across the room scorch something that was once alive.” – Carnivores
“Once, when I couldn’t stop the wind, I broke the chimes.” – Chimes
“His own heart will empty him.” – Lessons on Loving a Prophet
Thank you so much, Jeanann. Can’t wait to have you back!
Open Mic Notes
One thing I never mention here that I totally should: Daemond Arrindel Slammaster Extraordinaire, who gets so little mention and credit, actually opens the show every single week by reading a poem. This week, it was Robbie Q. Telfer’s “Clowns.” A fantastic choice.
Bruce V. Bracken opened the night with another pantoum! Favorite line: “What was my history, again? A saltwater birth of nothing.” Nice work, Bruce. And the rest of y’all – try writing a pantoum sometime. It’s a great exercise.
Jeremy Springstein followed with a story-of-a-relationship poem that contained the line “hate family and all the warm, wet feelings that go with it.” Sweet.
Artie Moffa wins my SlamBlogger’s Choice Best of the Open Mic Award (something new I’m trying) with “In the wee, small hours,” a poem about divorce, and Frank Sinatra. “Everything is different when you need a courtroom for closure.”
Mike Serrano came up with a piece about the terrors of facing the blank page – something we can all relate to! Welcome, Mike, and come back next week.
Matt Gano continued the unbroken streak of men (well, it was a WoWps slam; they had to read somewhere!) with “Seizure on Eastlake,” a laugh-and-wince-in-sympathy tale of a car breakdown. “The check engine light has been crying wolf for weeks.”
November, (great name) took her first time on the open mic with a sweet love poem to her girlfriend. Awww. Welcome! You were great!
Eli did the piece that Jeanann later mentioned – a stunningly performed piece about reclaiming her body while/after being an incest survivor. Great lines included “a sick dog’s fight,” “I will lead you out of her bones. I will not crawl away this time.” Gorgeous. Can’t wait to see what’s next from this promising writer.
Mack closed the open mic with a poem to her mother. “toddling around Queerville,” made me smile, as did “cursive beauty of a Q.”
WoWps Prelim 2 Slam Notes
Round 1 – 4 minutes
Ela Barton sacrificed herself on the altar of poetry with “Scrabble,” and set the bar high with a 27.4
Megan Burbank, a newbie to the slam, did an eye-rolling love poem to the city of Paris, which got giggles and smiles to the tune of 23.9
Dane Kuttler followed with “Advice to a young queer on National Coming Out Day.” 25..8
Roma Raye brought “Sandman,” and again gathered applause for her string of Roman Numerals. 27.9
Mary Danielle a Youth Speaks veteran, read a piece with the hook “I know girls who…” Loved “love your body like your mom loved your baby feet.” 28.3
Maya Hersh whipped out “the streetlights battle the sunrise,” which I always forget the actual title of. 26
Sara Brickman pulled out “Crazy Girls” and dedicated it to Jeanann from the stage. One of the best performances I’ve seen from her, ever. 28.1
Laura Watts followed with “Boxes,” and a killer end line about plums “dripping like blood/ sweeter than honey.” 24.8
Amber Flame closed out round 1 with a piece that wove together thoughts on having children with our shortening water supply. 26.2
Round 2 – 2 minutes
Amber kicked off with “unwanted,” with this gem of a line: “you left me cracked on the floor over you.” A time penalty takes her to a 25.1
Laura Watts came back with “I want to read you,” in a nice, engaging performance. 23.7
Sara Brickman brought out “If I were a man,” which I haven’t seen in awhile, with another killer performance – she was really relaxed and joyful up there. A pleasure to watch. 28
Maya Hersh returned with “John” about how we perceive craziness – beautifully in conversation with some of Jeanann’s work. 27
Mary Danielle followed with what can only be described as a gay pride poem, but darkly so. “There are people caskets walking the earth,” she began. 27.9 after a time penalty.
Roma Raye brought the laughter with “Faker.” 28.7
Dane Kuttler brought a new piece that indentified depression as a bigger problem than bullying (though the two are connected). 26.2 after a time penalty.
Megan Burbank finished the round with “a little ditty for girls who run cross-country.” That image at the end with the crows? Still with me. Awesome. 23.2 after a time penalty.
Round 3 – 1 minute
Mary Danielle did a piece about – what? new love? a new apartment? will we ever know? Either way, it was fun! 27.9
Sara Brickman finished triumphantly with “Dear Boy I Made Out With” for a 28.1
Roma Raye did her classic one-minute, “Red Rover” about adopting her daughter, for a fantastic closer and tying for second place with a 27.9
Congrats, Sara! See you all next week at the Dead Poet’s Slam
Finneyfrock Slam News Correspondent