Author Topic: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?  (Read 24090 times)

jesster

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2009, 05:42:42 PM »
the very heart of the what poetry slam is supposed to do is this: get the audience involved and get them to be a part of a thrilling experience with poetry.

the judges and the scores have NEVER been for the poets nor have they been meant to rank one poet or team of poets as better than another. the judges and the scores have ALWAYS been a trick, a gag, a tool, a method of giving the audience a voice and making them an active part of an amazing show.

the moment you start picking "professional" judges is the moment you force the slam to be about the poets and their egos and actually making the show about ranking one poet or team as better or worse than another, and that, my dear friends, is the death of slam.

the moment you take the audience out of this equation is the moment you kill slam. the scores and the judges are NOT for the us. they are for the audience.

Hear hear!

-Jesster

TSPrunier

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #31 on: August 24, 2009, 12:27:43 AM »
Likin' all the (expected) responses, and understand/support the reasoning.

Now, how can we stop the tail from wagging the dog, eh? How can we stop people/teams from focusing on the competition as the end-all, be-all?

I think Big Poppa E has a great idea - 100 poems in a row, no repeats. My plan was to not care about my slam scores this season, but Eirik has a whole new approach...

... now, if he could take that all the way through NPS next year (including side events), I'd totally support the effort - and maybe do it myself.

Scott Woods

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2009, 07:27:16 AM »
Likin' all the (expected) responses, and understand/support the reasoning.

Now, how can we stop the tail from wagging the dog, eh? How can we stop people/teams from focusing on the competition as the end-all, be-all?

I think Big Poppa E has a great idea - 100 poems in a row, no repeats. My plan was to not care about my slam scores this season, but Eirik has a whole new approach...

... now, if he could take that all the way through NPS next year (including side events), I'd totally support the effort - and maybe do it myself.

Man.  You can't (we know we can't legislate values or motive).  But what we can do is determine a) what this piece of the puzzle REALLY looks like and b) see if it's something worth trying to fight over.

For instance: how are we defining when the competition is “too serious?”  Is it based on SM meeting agenda items?  Is it based on sidewalk conversations?  Is it based on protests? What’s the formula?  Then, ascertain if the number of these incidents warrants any action at all.  What if you determine that roughly 90% of the teams, at the end of the day, really don’t care?  Should we then care?  Should we allow certain things on the table for change but not others?

I’ll be honest: part of the reason my no changes for 2 years motion is on the table is to see what really makes a difference and to how many people when they don’t have access to state their personal foibles every 6 months without any consideration for genuine discussion or compromise.  We could find that, in two years, no one wants to mess with anything, or at least not half of the stuff we like to mess with now. 

TSPrunier

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2009, 08:47:13 AM »
For instance: how are we defining when the competition is “too serious?”  Is it based on SM meeting agenda items?  Is it based on sidewalk conversations?  Is it based on protests? What’s the formula?  Then, ascertain if the number of these incidents warrants any action at all.  What if you determine that roughly 90% of the teams, at the end of the day, really don’t care? 

Tuesday night, around 11pm. Can't talk to half the people because they got a 3 or a 4 and know they're done for the week. Only one team I know of was upbeat. Everyone else hung their head because they works so hard to prepare.

Now, if you ascribe to The Scott Woods Poetry Slam Manual, of which I'm a fan, you don't have to memorize, add choreography, break solo pieces into group pieces, etc. You just stand up and recite poetry. And EVERYONE wins because they touched stage in front of a large, encouraging audience and shared their work.

As for messing with the competition, I'll go on the record with this thought: NOTHING I propose is intended to help me, my venue or anyone else gain an advantage.

I think that holds true for most others as well, but there are folks who would like to be able to repeat their two killer pieces if they make finals stage. Other teams would not. My thought around official judging at NPS is to honor the commitment, preparation and expenditure of the teams and venues with a degree of formality. NOTE: I am not arguing for it any longer, just clarifying the proposal, which I will state AGAIN requires funds we do not have at this time.

Scott Woods

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #34 on: August 24, 2009, 11:40:18 AM »
We're veering very close to needing a new thread here, but we're not going to fix that Tuesday night deflation.

I'll say this: the best night I had at NPS was Monday night, when a bunch of the teams were there and poets swarmed the hotel and streets and no one had read a poem yet.  We were in the restaurants and bars, drining, catching up, talking and generally being our cool selves.  I even said to a couple of people, "Man, I wish we didn't have to read poetry this week."  Silly.


TSPrunier

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2009, 04:47:55 PM »
We're veering very close to needing a new thread here, but we're not going to fix that Tuesday night deflation.

I'll say this: the best night I had at NPS was Monday night, when a bunch of the teams were there and poets swarmed the hotel and streets and no one had read a poem yet.  We were in the restaurants and bars, drining, catching up, talking and generally being our cool selves.  I even said to a couple of people, "Man, I wish we didn't have to read poetry this week."  Silly.

Yeah, I wanted to catch up with a few people in WPB, but didn't see as many as I wanted to Monday night. Once the tournament started, too many were too serious outside the bouts and in practice. One team brought a sycophant who was a distracting claquer at the rookie open mic (glad I wasn't at that team's bouts) and I missed the performance when the individual reached a Pentacostal state of jumping up and down and screaming responses over the poet's performance - again, at the Rookie Open Mic. Kind of the sign of the apocalypse if you ask me.

I might not do 100 different poems this season in my little town, but I will continue to do what I've done since I came back to slam a few months ago - cover my ears during the reading of my scores.

At this point, I feel my writing is reaching a level - including the amount of work I put into it - that I don't care what five random people think. I'll continue to accept the 10s I (and so many of us) collect after the slam, when audience members come up to me and compliment me or (gasp!) ask a nobody like me if I have merchandise. One time, I performed on the street into someone's videophone; another time, someone insisted I write out a poem for them. Those are the 10s I get, and they mean a lot to me...

... still, won't lie: Would love to hoist that stack of books with the sword through it one day.

TSP


Chancelier xero Skidmore

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #36 on: August 24, 2009, 11:22:21 PM »
At the recent NPS competition the judges in our first bout didn't care for anything we put up on the stage. We came in fourth place after months and months of writing and rehearsing. Of course, we made up our minds that the judges were idiots and they couldn't appreciate "real poetry" but the truth of it is that they responded to what moved them. And with slam, sometimes thats melodrama or slick wordplay..or poetry that was just better than yours, whether you admit it or not. But my team and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Those five judges are a portion of the larger audience, not seperate from it. They're swayed sometimes quite easily by entourage serving as cheering sections and also by a team representing a city that has a cool name. But they are the people who cared to come to our event. They're as stuck with us as we are with them. They're slam judges. The people we deeply love to deeply hate.

Consistent judges across the board at every bout and venue of NPS would be as boring as hell. They'd zero in on the one prized aesthetic, reward it with a trophy, and then we'd all spent lots of time becoming carbon copies of "the standard".

For me, slam isn't about winning or kicking ass. It's about doing kick ass poetry and letting the judges decide if they enjoyed the kick or not. And let's face it, eratic judges keep the veteran poets humble and give the rookies hope. It's anybody's game! Isn't that kind of cool?

suziqsmith

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #37 on: August 25, 2009, 08:51:06 AM »
For me, slam isn't about winning or kicking ass. It's about doing kick ass poetry and letting the judges decide if they enjoyed the kick or not. And let's face it, eratic judges keep the veteran poets humble and give the rookies hope. It's anybody's game! Isn't that kind of cool?

HUZZAH!!!

That is completely cool.  (wildly applauds)

Ransacked

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #38 on: August 25, 2009, 10:27:50 AM »
Those five judges are a portion of the larger audience, not seperate from it. They're swayed sometimes quite easily by entourage serving as cheering sections and also by a team representing a city that has a cool name. But they are the people who cared to come to our event. They're as stuck with us as we are with them. They're slam judges. The people we deeply love to deeply hate.

...

For me, slam isn't about winning or kicking ass. It's about doing kick ass poetry and letting the judges decide if they enjoyed the kick or not. And let's face it, eratic judges keep the veteran poets humble and give the rookies hope. It's anybody's game! Isn't that kind of cool?

Amen to all of that. You've got exactly right.

TSPrunier

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #39 on: August 25, 2009, 03:33:12 PM »
Consistent judges across the board at every bout and venue of NPS would be as boring as hell. They'd zero in on the one prized aesthetic, reward it with a trophy, and then we'd all spent lots of time becoming carbon copies of "the standard".

I would argue that a good writer doesn't write to an aesthetic, and that good poetry should win out. It's not that I want to alienate non-poets (i.e. performers, monologuists, rappers, other types of entertainers) from a POETRY slam, but it would be nice to go to a POETRY slam and hear nothing but POETRY. Not academic, not hybrid, just some POETRY. Those writing to a supposed 'standard' should reconsider why they're slamming, and perhaps step aside.

But I do agree that this can become a pitfall for the poets as well.


And let's face it, eratic judges keep the veteran poets humble and give the rookies hope. It's anybody's game! Isn't that kind of cool?

If that were indeed the case, I never would have made this proposal. In some instances, this happens (saw a TOP TOP spoken word artist get hung with a 24something for going first a couple of years ago), but often the slam becomes a popularity contest, and those with the loudest cheering section often have a leg up. Not always, but often.


Trying not to sound bitter (I'm not - 'veterans' paid their dues and so should nobodies like me), just explaining why I proposed we consider qualified judges for this competition.


linzm

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #40 on: August 26, 2009, 11:39:39 AM »
Basically, you can run your own shows however you want. If you want to start a tournament with "expert" judges, go for it! But that isn't slam. "Random" judges is an essential fact of what we do. It represents the democratization of art, points out the absurdity of the very notion of "expert" art judges, and involves the audience in an important way.

See, this is why Mike Mlekoday is awesome.  The whole point of poetry slam is that EVERYONE'S voice counts.  You don't need to be an expert, you don't need a degree or years of slam experience, you don't need to have ever read a poem before in your life.  If you're there, you're qualified to judge.  It's not cool to fuck with that just because you don't share some of the judges' opinions.  The day we start having "expert" judges at NPS is the day I stop going.


I would argue that a good writer doesn't write to an aesthetic, and that good poetry should win out. It's not that I want to alienate non-poets (i.e. performers, monologuists, rappers, other types of entertainers) from a POETRY slam, but it would be nice to go to a POETRY slam and hear nothing but POETRY. Not academic, not hybrid, just some POETRY. Those writing to a supposed 'standard' should reconsider why they're slamming, and perhaps step aside.


This doesn't make sense to me.  Poets shouldn't strive for any aesthetic standard, but they shouldn't be academic, or "hybrid," or performers, or rappers, because then they're not doing POETRY, which is defined as... what?  Stuff that you like?  And if we all started writing and performing according to your guidelines, how would that NOT lead to the exact problem Chancelier xero Skidmore is talking about?

One of the best things about slam is that you never know who the judges are going to be on any given night.  You always have to read the room, respond to the audience, figure out on the fly what's working and what isn't.  Having preselected judges would take the fun out of it.  I don't want to hear a room full of people doing stuff they wrote just to impress Hyped-Up Celebrity Judge X.  I want to see poets doing risky pieces that they love because they're gambling that some random person in the room will love it too.

johnmiller37

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #41 on: August 26, 2009, 02:27:34 PM »
seeking peace in all things

In this thread as in others I find a single argument. Is NPS a competetion or a festival?....Poets/Teams work hard and spend lots of money ..$1000s to come to the NPS every year.

So the points do matter by extentison then the judges matter.

I know Slam was founded on the audience. I also beleive there will be a hard time convinceing me that there is a expert judge of slam out there.

There has to be away to get a diverse pannel of judges that keeps the spirit of slam but also focuses in on the poets and the words....I still dont know the answer to this question but eventually I think the competetion ... will out-way... the random from the crowd method...but until that day comes choosing from the crowd is the best we have.
I wish I could be just write for you

TSPrunier

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #42 on: August 26, 2009, 10:58:39 PM »
I would argue that a good writer doesn't write to an aesthetic, and that good poetry should win out. It's not that I want to alienate non-poets (i.e. performers, monologuists, rappers, other types of entertainers) from a POETRY slam, but it would be nice to go to a POETRY slam and hear nothing but POETRY. Not academic, not hybrid, just some POETRY. Those writing to a supposed 'standard' should reconsider why they're slamming, and perhaps step aside.

This doesn't make sense to me.  Poets shouldn't strive for any aesthetic standard, but they shouldn't be academic, or "hybrid," or performers, or rappers, because then they're not doing POETRY, which is defined as... what?  Stuff that you like?  And if we all started writing and performing according to your guidelines, how would that NOT lead to the exact problem Chancelier xero Skidmore is talking about?

Emphasis mine in the above. Don't know how it doesn't make sense and then you agree with me. I'm not proposing my poetry preferences become the standard, or any standard be applied.

One of the best things about slam is that you never know who the judges are going to be on any given night.  You always have to read the room, respond to the audience, figure out on the fly what's working and what isn't.  Having preselected judges would take the fun out of it.  I don't want to hear a room full of people doing stuff they wrote just to impress Hyped-Up Celebrity Judge X.  I want to see poets doing risky pieces that they love because they're gambling that some random person in the room will love it too.

Sizing up the judges and the room is not taking a risk. Only playing devil's advocate at this point, but to clarify: The judges I propose would not be all academic or all slam experienced and hardly celebrities. Odds are the "Hyped-Up Celebrity Judge X" being in a the same bout of a poet who wrote a poem about them would be pretty limited in this scenario. In no way would people know who their judge would be before the bout. That aspect would not change. To be specific, the judges would draw venue numbers and then be shuttled to the venue just before the bout begins. This matches the current experience.


TSPrunier

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #43 on: August 26, 2009, 11:05:45 PM »
There has to be away to get a diverse pannel of judges that keeps the spirit of slam but also focuses in on the poets and the words....I still dont know the answer to this question but eventually I think the competetion ... will out-way... the random from the crowd method...but until that day comes choosing from the crowd is the best we have.

This is the rub. Random judging is not necessarily an outdated concept, and is most definitely the spirit of the original slam concept, but the preparation that goes into the National Poetry Slam and way the competition has evolved into a popularity contest dictate that we should at least have this discussion.

linzm

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Re: Preselected, qualified judges for NPS?
« Reply #44 on: August 27, 2009, 09:40:25 AM »
Sorry to be ornery, but I wasn't agreeing with you, I was just paraphrasing you in the hopes of figuring out what you meant.  I absolutely don't believe that "poets shouldn't strive to meet any aesthetic standard."  That's senseless on the face of it.  EVERYONE who writes poetry is aiming for SOME specific aesthetic.  Should they all be going for the same standard?  No, because that would be boring.  But of course poets have aesthetic preferences, and of course they're going to try to write poems that embody those preferences.

And "don't be a rapper, don't be a performer, don't be academic" IS a particular set of aesthetic preferences, but because they'e YOUR preferences you've summed them up under the heading of POETRY, thus implying that anyone who does stuff that you don't like is not doing POETRY.

This, folks, is why I have a problem with the idea of "qualified" judges.