Here is an awesome blog entry by the Seattle-based poet Dane Kuttler (also my Seattle slam correspondent). Dane gives us a peep into how poets work their way into getting local shows. Enjoy!
Seattle 151, or Freude
Once upon a time, I moved to Seattle to become a better poet. And shortly after I moved, I went to the Seattle Poetry Slam Slammaster, a man named D, and asked him if I could do a feature. I wanted to use the feature to introduce myself to the slam community.“Nope,” he said cheerfully, as he tallied the night’s scores. “You’re not ready.”So I went and I worked. I took classes, found mentors, and began to really work on my poetry. I competed in every slam, and went to national events. And after six months, I went back and asked again.“Nope,” he said again. “Not quite yet. You’re getting better, though.”So I went and I worked. I began the 365/365 project, placed in the finals of a national written poetry competition, wrote a book, attended more national slams and coached a team. And when I went back to ask again, D said:“Maybe next year.”So I went and I worked. I found a publisher for my book and began editing it. I finished the 365/365 project, and made a rough draft of a novel-in-verse. I continued to slam every week, and wrote reviews of the performances. And when I came back from visiting my family over new years, I asked D one more time if I might do a feature sometime, maybe the end of the year.“Sure,” he said, with a casual tilt of his head. “You’re ready. When do you want to do it?”Doing a local feature is a little like having a birthday party. It’s a special celebration of a very regular occurrence. I perform poems at the slam every week, but somehow, everyone went out of their way to tell me how much they enjoyed my work, or how much I’d grown.I even got dressed up in a bona fide party dress. See?Also, see those tights? If you look at them up close, they have pictures and quotes from Spenser’s The Fairie Queene – making them perhaps the geekiest literary stockings that ever were.The performance itself was fantastic. Not only was the audience full of people I loved (Joel, Martina, Secret Agent Lover Man and Duncan – my current inner circle of houesmates and loves – made up the entire front row, and beamed at me whenever I looked down), but at least half a dozen people came up to buy books and tell me they’d never been to a slam before. That’s my favorite compliment: “I’ve never seen anything like this, and I love it!”I performed seven poems – Freude, Names (which is on my website), Shifra The Midwife Speaks to the Protesters Outside Planned Parenthood, Love Me Like A Man (a piece by my friend Lindsay Miller that I was honored to cover), a Raizl/Rachel poem, Man (a new piece), and Bilingual. Four of those pieces were accompanied by my friend and collaborator Mai Li Pittard on guitar and vocals. The music and poetry worked well together, and having Mai Li up on stage was really fun.I sold a dozen books, and got lots of hugs. It was a great show.At the end of the night, I felt like this:Freude. Joy.*Thanks to Rachel McNary and Jan Pylar for the photos!