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Author Topic: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam  (Read 32663 times)

mikec

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2007, 05:38:15 AM »
When I discovered Taylor Mali's What Teachers Make. is that poetry slam? but ever since then.. i've been reading more and more people's poetry...

Ransacked

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #31 on: October 18, 2007, 02:57:09 PM »
I don't know that I've fallen in love with Spoken Word/Slam just yet; call it a strong professional admiration.  I used to attend a lot of wine-and-cheese poetry readings, the kind where everybody under thirty wears black jeans and everyone over thirty wears leather elbow patches.  If that's not your scene, I hear you; I'm not entirely sure it was ever my scene, either.  Everything and everyone was a little too polished and perfect.  Had someone brought forth a poem and announced: "I just finished writing this this afternoon, so it's a bit rough" somebody might have fainted from the impropriety of it.  I'm exagerating, but only a little.

I once saw my favorite poet, a man with impeccable New Yorker/ Ploughshares credentials, totally rock the mic at one of those buttoned-up readings.  He had a long, humorous, 15-minute narrative poem memorized, and he paced the room rasping it at the slightly scandalized crowd and I thought: "Yeah.  Like that.  Poetry needs more of that."

I went to my first poetry slam in June of 2006.  A few days before, I'd attended a very dull open-mic poetry reading at a public library.  It was a waste of time except that I met a slam poet there who told me she red regularly at Cantab Lounge in Cambridge Massachusetts.  She told me I should go there, "It's the only place somebody like you is going to make sense."  I dragged my feet for no good reason, but eventually I went.  I felt like a ballroom dancer at his first all-night rave.  It was much more fun and exciting than what I'd been used to.  There is a vitality to slam which (I hope) informs my writing these days.  There is a raw emotionality which many slammers can tap seemingly on cue, effortlessly, and when they channel that emotion in service to the story it is a profoundly moving experience.  Sure, sometimes that emotion jumps the tracks and I think we've all seen a few 3-minute train wrecks.  Big deal.

I'm still a page poet at heart (if I am a poet at all, and I think the jury's still out on that one), but I'm immensely grateful to the woman who told me about the Cantab Lounge.  There are some astoundingly talented writers/performers there who have challenged me to raise my game and who have pushed me into directions and writing styles I'd not have had the courage to attempt unbidden.

It's easy to be poet laureate of my living room, tempting to "be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space," and my dog will always think I'm a genius because, heck, I understand doorknobs and he doesn't...but every once in a while it's crucial to get out in the world and seek exterior judgment.  It's painful but healthy to see all the books you've read and all the phrases you've written and re-written get distilled into a brutally harsh slam score by judges who are not the least bit impressed.

Slam plays hard to get.  I don't know if love is the right word, but I go back to the same bar week after week, hoping one of these nights I'll get the digits I'm after.

Evan

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #32 on: November 25, 2007, 03:42:09 AM »
Quote
It's easy to be poet laureate of my living room, tempting to "be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space," and my dog will always think I'm a genius because, heck, I understand doorknobs and he doesn't...but every once in a while it's crucial to get out in the world and seek exterior judgment.  It's painful but healthy to see all the books you've read and all the phrases you've written and re-written get distilled into a brutally harsh slam score by judges who are not the least bit impressed.

oh, thats beautiful!!! thanks for sharing.
one world + one race = onelove

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Khary J aka 6 is 9

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2007, 09:17:54 PM »
I've performed other people's poetry on the college forensics circuit for 5 years; that was likely the infatuation process. But not til this year did I fall in love. I think it started the moment I was first inspired by the mental vision of a distant sunrise to write my poem My America. That writing experience started the steamroll effect, and my writing just got better from there. There was a new passion for writing work that could move people, really move them. A guy told me that after hearing that piece he wanted to go start a revolution. That was also the first poem I did, in my first bout, at my first nationals. And it was amazing. At one point the audience was cheering so loud that I could barely hear myself speak. The 29.9 didn't hurt, either. This was my entrance into the national slam community.

Then there was the rest of nats, hearing so much exciting work. Indies was a great night of poetry, and to be a part of that group was so thrilling. Then the responses from that made it all even more surreal. Further evidence that poetry can move people, change people, in real ways. Since nats, I've been on a poetry high. I write so. much. shit. It's insane, and I feel like I'm on an artistic level right now that surprises me sometimes. I just blink and say, "I'm here."

So yeah. This year. This is my love dive.
Play diligently. Live sweetly. Love wildly.

dlhoratio

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #34 on: December 29, 2007, 10:09:06 PM »
14 years old, a special open mic at the NY Public Library, hosted by Taylor Mali.  I had no idea who the guy was, and had a minimal idea of what slam was.  I'd just started performing at a weekly open mic in Jersey, when 9/11 hit, and suddenly, the faculty adviser for my high school's literary magazine gave me this invite to the library mic.  It was a Youth Speaks-sponsored thing, a post-9/11 reaction reading.  In the poem I performed, I paused to tell everyone in the room to hug each other, and Taylor came out to hug me, onstage.  After he slammed 'What Teachers Make' at the end of the open mic, I went home and Googled the hell out of him. 

That was the introduction.

The love affair started almost five years later, when I saw a flier for a slam at Hampshire College.  I was all set not to go, when a friend insisted on driving me, and staying while I slammed.  To this day, I silently dedicate a poem to her whenever I slam, thinking of that night, and how close I came to slipping away from performing forever.

NPS 2007 was my first PSI event, and, like Khary, I think this is it - the pinnacle of infatuation, the crazy, dizzying, blinding ride.  My love dive.

Khary J aka 6 is 9

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #35 on: December 29, 2007, 11:53:23 PM »
For the record, Dane, I'd like to personally copyright "love dive". I'm pretty sure I made it up, so if you make any moolah with it, hit me up and pay up!  ;D
Play diligently. Live sweetly. Love wildly.

dlhoratio

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #36 on: December 30, 2007, 04:00:20 PM »
By that logic, how much would you owe J. M. Barrie?  :P  No worries, friend.

mythosresurgence

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #37 on: March 29, 2008, 02:36:29 AM »
I'm barely getting into performance poetry at the tender yung age of 20. i thought i needed something new in my life, so i was browsing through the itunes podcasts and found indiefeed performance poetry. i was impressed and felt like i finally found a very accessible medium to be raw and not worry about being politically correct...a big plus for me. i left a big name college for a lot of those reasons, i felt it doesnt care about the individual as much as school reputation and getting a degree to "succeed" all the while being isolated from a human element. so i left to find something for me. im looking forward to involving myself in it to express my views abut the world at large and to find my own voice and reinvent myself and attack a lot of social issues that politicians are being cowards about

Euphrates

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2008, 02:02:45 AM »
Well, see...first I fell in love with a poet. I know, a dangerous path fraught with untold dangers...but I went there. Said poet had been on a slam team back in the day, but he's been on hiatus for a while. Having read some of his work, I started digging, scouring the net for events in his area, possibilities for him to get back on his game. I put a lot of time and research into getting on yahoo groups and e-lists and forwarding him things (poor guy was bombarded). First time he read in public again was at the Jawbone Festival last year when I was in town (see he lived 4 hours away from me in Kent, OH)...  But it wasn't until he moved down here to Cincinnati that I managed to get him to a slam. Oh. My. Gawds. These people didn't read poetry...they exuded it! And seeing him on stage (and hearing his enthusiasm spark again as he got into his game), it was all worth it. We started attenting as regularly as we could - tried out the slam that was more local to us, but found the folks in Dayton incredibly friendly and welcoming (and persistant...even got ME on stage for the open mic...which has me writing again, which I'd forgotten my passion for...AND recruited me on the fly to help out the team at a slam in Buffalo...and they liked me! They really liked me!).

So yeah, I'm hooked. Sure, my Poet got me into this (well, sort of...I *am* The Instigator after all). But the poetry keeps me here. :D
The answer is in the adventure!

The Poet Handler (aka The Instigator)

mscassiepoet@yahoo.com

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #39 on: April 09, 2008, 09:13:20 AM »
Spring 1999.  Some several months after the death/murder of my husband.  Started dating and met a guy, who to this day is still a wonderful friend, and he thought a great first date included an evening at a poetry cafe in downtown Detroit.  I sarcastically thought, "great, a night in the back of the library stacks, smoking cigarettes and taking about the trees."  I had no idea. 

The poetry that hit the stage was so intense and amazing I couldn't understand why people weren't talking about it everywhere I went.  The guy and I broke up shortly thereafter, but I kept coming back for more poetry.  Poetry helped me deal with the loss and confusion of life and my first poem was about my husband.  Rudimentary to be sure, but I found through poetry the ability to endure.  I'll always love poetry for that. 

I followed open mic to Slam and what started as a deep, profound love for the art of poetry turned into a hot, steamy affair with Slam.  I've been hooked ever since.  Started a venue, slammed for a few teams and can't seem to quit.  I always look forward to seeing my lovers every year at Nationals.  You guys keep this love affair strong and exciting.  See you soon!   :-*
Cassie Poe
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Denver Slam

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2008, 12:22:50 PM »
I had a student who came up to me and told me, "Ms. R, you HAVE to go see whaqt they do at the Mercury Cafe! The way you love words and stuff--well, it's your kind of thing. Trust me."  So I went--and had the wrong address, and drove around looking for 20 minutes. And was about to give up when, lo and behold, loomed large the Merc.  I came in to an absolutely packed room--there were no seats anywhere, SRO, and it was the most bizarre "business" establishment I had ever seen. The walls, ceilings, tables and chairs were painted with leaves, animals, flowers, etc. There were velvet curtains sectioning off the room, and christmas lights dangling precariously every which way across the entire ceiling.  I stood, pressed in against what seemed like hundreds of other people, and what felt like 120 degrees, and heard, literally, 9 poems in a row about vagina. The poet's vaginas, other people's vaginas, what the poets would do to said vaginas, etc.  I now know that I had wandered into the Merc's open mic during a particularly vag-centric time in our open mic crowd. SO, while I am generally pro-vagina, I was...unimpressed, and sweating, and uncomfortable, and had one foot out the door when a burst of energy with flaming pink hair jumped up on stage and bellowed, "That's it for the open mic folks. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em, the slam starts in 10 minutes."  I then realized that the vagina parade had not been the "slam" I was supposed to attend, and that since I was already here, maybe I should stick around. OH MY GOD. The Chicano Messengers were in town that night, and slamming at the Merc. On my first intro. to slam ever, I saw Marc Pinate, Amalia Ortiz, and Paul Flores--and Eirean Bradley, and Ian Dougherty, and the guy with the pink hair who was hosting read a poem, thus introducing Paulie Lipman into my world. When I fell in love with slam, it was love at first sight--and it was the real deal because it has only grown and evolved ever since.  I went back the next week and watched, jaw-dropped, as this tiny woman read a poem called "Blue Blanket"--and the last line of the poem made me actually gasp out loud. Yeah, I guess being in Denver didn't hurt--I got the best of the best right off the bat.  I watched for a whole year and had no intention of ever getting on stage myself...but...well...I had this poem. SO, I had the best rookie year any poet could ever, ever wish for: slammed for the first time and won, stunned, beating a few of my heroes. Three months later made the slam team.  Four months, and many adventures later, our 2006 team had the amazing privilege of winning Nats. Yeah. I can honestly say that I am in love with Slam--and it's been a worthy lover--very, very good to me. I still marvel at how often the people around me inspire "the gasp" when I hear their work. I'm Slam Master now, but haven't slammed myself for a year. I LOVE getting to perform all over the place, and I still am thrilled to go to all PSI events. WOWPS reminded me yet again why I love this all so much--I still live for the gasp. Thanks to all of you for bringing it so often. It's pretty amazing, this thing we do. :0)
Jen Rinaldi

Faylita Hicks

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Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
« Reply #41 on: July 27, 2008, 10:56:49 PM »
I was young... a bit on the edgy side, seeing as I had just left the church I had been raised in since 5.  It was the summer after graduation and I was interning in Austin.  The program directors asked me to teach a poetry class and an acting class.  Somewhere in the mix of things, Mike Henry's number got passed my way.  Two video tapes, one Shannon Leigh, and one smoke filled Ego's later, I was stuck.  I knew the first time I read on the mic, coughing and reading from my torn notebook paper, that this was for me.  It was quite intoxicating... however, the eternal moment, the moment I actually completely fell in love with poetry came later.  Almost three years later. 

Of course I had been saturating Austin, slipping into every open mic and slam available.  Hunting for new places to sneak into.  Mind you, I wasn't 21 yet, and it was hard to find a decent spot that let us young ones in.  But I found them.  Mike Henry, Brian Francis and the likes let me in to do my thing, encouraging my somewhat misguided journey to become one of the top female slam poets in Austin.  And then I was kicked out of school.  Academic probation.  My life, it felt then, was over.  But I didn't even know why I had wanted to be in school in the first place.  My original major, Acting, was a load of crap, I decided early on, and was not really my cup of tea.  School seemed like a frustrating obligation.  My life had no direction.  So whats a young girl to do when all seems lost?

Hit an open mic up.  Yell.  Scream.  Cry.  Whatever.  Spill your guts out in front of people who know nothing about you.  I did, at Ruta Maya's on a warm Tuesday night.  There was an African drum circle, and Austin's infamous Thom the World Poet, and some lady who kept telling me to dance in the circle.  And there was the moon, and the heat, and the realization that I had no path and no purpose, so I danced.   I don't know when it happened exactly, or how it happened, but when the music stopped and I stepped out of that circle, I knew who I was and what I wanted.  I wanted to be a poet.  A spoken word artist.  Not just for the money,(what money?), or the fame,(????), or anything like that...   I wanted to speak up.  Confidently... and speak for those who couldn't speak for themselves. 

My love for Spoken Word grew from there.  I went back to college, majoring in English, and will be graduating with my Bachelors.  No, I don't want to teach, atleast not in the classic sense of the word.  I want to speak and teach others to speak for themselves and for others.  I want to posess the ability to influence a moment with the profound truth of a lyric.  A verse. 

My love affair with poetry/ Spoken Word/Poetry Slam has seeped into ever corner of my life.  Even my handsome fiance knows that it will always be one of my first loves.  It's incredible, how the freedom to say something, anything, in a context such as the one presented by slam, can empower you, and change your life forever.