Author Topic: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered  (Read 10844 times)

simone

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NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« on: July 19, 2011, 10:35:26 AM »
Hello, Slam Family:

I am writing to you all with a request for help at the 2011 National Poetry Slam: it's a small request that I think will be important to many people. The community voted to include a Moment of Silence on the NPS Finals stage every year to memorialize the poets who have come before us, and especially those we may have lost recently.

I am trying to create the very sad list of poets and community members whom we have lost this year. So far, I can think of Sheila Siobhan and Will Da Real One Bell, but I am distressingly certain that I am missing others. I do know that Chicago also lost a community member this year, but I am unable to find the thread here in the forums.

If you can recall the name of a slam family member whom we lost this year who had national impact --meaning that their name and/or deeds would be appropriate for the community to recall at a national event-- I would like to hear about it. I admit that we will not have time to memorialize any of these people in the way they deserve, but we would at least like to make sure we speak their names on the Finals stage and take a moment to reflect.

You may reply here, or email me directly at director@nps2011.com. Hope everyone is staying safe and well.

--simone
Simone Beaubien
Host City Director
National Poetry Slam 2011
http://www.nps2011.com
Simone Beaubien
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jesster

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 11:18:32 AM »
Gil Scott-Heron also passed this year. While not specifically a part of the slam community, he was definitely a part of our larger spoken word community.

-Jesse

simone

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 03:21:20 PM »
Thanks, Jesse. I will be frank that although Gil's passing affects all of us at artists, I was more looking for people who have affected the slam community directly and personally, and a list of other artists might take precedence over his passing.

Through personal messages and Facebook, so far, I have:
* Sheila Siobhan
* Will Da Real One Bell
* Cheryl B(urke)
* Kent Foreman
* Maria McCray

There is a Facebook note for those who would like to pass this around some:
http://www.facebook.com/notes/simone-beaubien/nps-2011-remembering-those-weve-lost/10150322370279414
Simone Beaubien
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danstrack

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2011, 04:28:22 PM »
Thanks, Jesse. I will be frank that although Gil's passing affects all of us at artists, I was more looking for people who have affected the slam community directly and personally, and a list of other artists might take precedence over his passing.

I totally agree with this sentiment Simone.  However, my scouting report shows that there is a member of team "Damn Slam" Los Angeles, named "Gia Scott Heron".

According to their Indie-go-go account: www.indiegogo.com/Damn-Slam-Team-Needs-Help-Getting-to-Boston, she is the daughter of Gil Scott-Heron. 

Therefore, since Gil is the father of a poet on the national scene, this should put him back in for a special remembrance. 

dny

cheryl_maddalena

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2011, 06:14:35 PM »
Michael Birkinshaw - Team Boise 2007.
Melissa Heagerty - 10 year supporter of slam, door person, superfan, owner of one of the largest chapbook collections in existence.
ww.boisepoetry.com

Scott Woods

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2011, 07:05:09 AM »
Thanks, Jesse. I will be frank that although Gil's passing affects all of us at artists, I was more looking for people who have affected the slam community directly and personally, and a list of other artists might take precedence over his passing.

I totally agree with this sentiment Simone.  However, my scouting report shows that there is a member of team "Damn Slam" Los Angeles, named "Gia Scott Heron".

According to their Indie-go-go account: www.indiegogo.com/Damn-Slam-Team-Needs-Help-Getting-to-Boston, she is the daughter of Gil Scott-Heron. 

Therefore, since Gil is the father of a poet on the national scene, this should put him back in for a special remembrance. 

dny

See, this is the problem the EC has always had to wrestle with: where do we "draw the line"? What can be done? Can anything be done for one that isn't done for all? What about charitable merchandise? Do some people get more play than others? On the basis of what? We've done some things in the past right and some things we tried and they didn't work out as well as hoped. We've got a couple of things we do now, but I mostly look forward to hearing what you, the community, have to say about it.

simone

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2011, 08:12:15 AM »
See, this is the problem the EC has always had to wrestle with: where do we "draw the line"? What can be done? Can anything be done for one that isn't done for all? What about charitable merchandise? Do some people get more play than others? On the basis of what? We've done some things in the past right and some things we tried and they didn't work out as well as hoped. We've got a couple of things we do now, but I mostly look forward to hearing what you, the community, have to say about it.

It is a struggle, Scott, and I am particularly nervous about this one. I do not know how many of us in the scene knew Gil Scott-Heron personally, and since I don't know Gia, I don't want NPS/PSi to be perceived as "appropriating" him in death, since we only obliquely honored him in life... Gil meant a great deal to many of us as artists, but he belonged to Gia as a father.

I think this beings to define where I suggest we draw the line. I am utterly supportive of honoring artists we have lost, but I used the words "Slam Family" to indicate people who have touched the poetry slam scene not just artistically, but personally. That's one of the reasons I think it's appropriate to honor Gabby and Maria (above); the rest of the world may choose to honor them as artists, but most of us miss them most as friends --the kind of friends we could not have made without our connection to the art and community.

Some of what I've written here is colored by the events of this weekend, obviously. But I don't think any of us want this to just be a list of names we have tangential associations with; this is one brief moment to be united with the family in mourning and celebration, and I personally want to know I am sitting next to someone who knows what these people meant to the community at large.
Simone Beaubien
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Scott Woods

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2011, 09:07:46 AM »
Anyone who 's worked with me knows I have two speeds: "Let's start with what we can all agree on and build" and "Get it done now." This issue is the first one for me.

I've long felt (though not moved) that the best place to start with this entire issue is to - INITIALLY - "cap" any rememberances to "person who competed at a PSi event." I don't think we lose anybody that we've already remembered publicly to date with that stipulation.

Further, I am inclined to extend that to any staff member of PSi, since while most of the people who have worked with PSi directly are covered by the competitor stipulation, it does NOT cover some others that clearly we shoudl honor should something happen. The fact that Erik Daniel or Henry Sampson haven't ever read poems at events shouldn't keep them from being honored should something happen to them. So add "staff".

After that, things get a little less firm, so maybe let's go from there.
Cool? I loved me some Scott-Heron, but I don't think we honor him by obliquely refering to him through Slam channels we have, to date, reserved for people who were FROM our community.

karen_g

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2011, 09:31:09 AM »
I like the "from PSI events," because that is also broad enough to cover the poets who don't make teams, but who compete every time or volunteer, collect, sometimes house & feed & connect with all the family members we do who visit at our localized PSI events.They are who we bring in our throats when we hit NPS and are sometimes the meaning of "represent my city."

I've been thinking of this for the past few days, even before yesterday's news, but one of the best parts of the remembrances for Sheila & Shannon were the moments of "poetry tag" sharing we did. Basically, Mike arranged for about 10-13 of us to pop up with a line, a poem piece, a story to share. It didn't take so long it dominated the service, people were respectfully brief. We could adopt something similar in concept, maybe instead of a moment of silence, specific people can be tapped to say the person's name, their city, and a title or a SHORT phrase from one of their poems.

It's a thought.
nerak_g

simone

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2011, 09:55:31 AM »
Karen, I do want to be clear that we just do not have time to do a full memorial on Finals stage, and that is not what I am proposing here; there just is not time to honor all the people that we want to in an appropriate way. The SM body voted on having a moment of silence at SlamMasters' recently and that is definitely what we will include in the Finals schedule.

I do think that there are tons of day events where we can do this in a safe space with our family around us, including the Grief and Remembrance reading that you are hosting.
Simone Beaubien
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Scott Woods

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2011, 10:36:01 AM »
I typed up a whole thing and lost it. I'll recap it fast now:

1) Let us not focus on the HOW. Let us focus on the WHO. That will inform the how.

2) Karen, you lost me again. "From PSI events". I don't know what that means. And while you go on to clarify some, it got wide open again, and that's where we are now.

Something to consider is WHERE we are doing this, and what that represents. We're doing these at PSi events, in NPS/iWPS/WOWps space. It's a space very different from my local space, and not just in terms of location, but purpose and culture.

So, my venue owner, Mike, is a great guy. He has opened his doors for us so many times for next to nothing it's ridiculous. He supports poetry, and did so before we got there. He has done a lot for local poetry, not just our show. If I wanted to, I could draw a line from his efforts locally to WOW even being a possiblity here the last two years. But I don't think Mike should be honored on an NPS/iWPS/WOWps finals stage. It's MY job to raise the flag for my local heroes, not to find a way that they kind of might sort of connect to PSi so they can be honored by a bunch of people who never knew them in any capacity. 

damnyo4000

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2011, 10:42:51 AM »
Quote from: Scott Woods link=topic=6829. msg69975#msg69975 date=1311595509
Quote from: danstrack link=topic=6829. msg69960#msg69960 date=1311542902
Quote from: simone link=topic=6829. msg69845#msg69845 date=1311106880
Thanks, Jesse.  I will be frank that although Gil's passing affects all of us at artists, I was more looking for people who have affected the slam community directly and personally, and a list of other artists might take precedence over his passing. 

I totally agree with this sentiment Simone.   However, my scouting report shows that there is a member of team "Damn Slam" Los Angeles, named "Gia Scott Heron".

According to their Indie-go-go account: www. indiegogo. com/Damn-Slam-Team-Needs-Help-Getting-to-Boston, she is the daughter of Gil Scott-Heron.   

Therefore, since Gil is the father of a poet on the national scene, this should put him back in for a special remembrance.   

dny

See, this is the problem the EC has always had to wrestle with: where do we "draw the line"? What can be done? Can anything be done for one that isn't done for all? What about charitable merchandise? Do some people get more play than others? On the basis of what? We've done some things in the past right and some things we tried and they didn't work out as well as hoped.  We've got a couple of things we do now, but I mostly look forward to hearing what you, the community, have to say about it. 
Quote from: danstrack link=topic=6829. msg69960#msg69960 date=1311542902
Quote from: simone link=topic=6829. msg69845#msg69845 date=1311106880
Thanks, Jesse.  I will be frank that although Gil's passing affects all of us at artists, I was more looking for people who have affected the slam community directly and personally, and a list of other artists might take precedence over his passing. 

I totally agree with this sentiment Simone.   However, my scouting report shows that there is a member of team "Damn Slam" Los Angeles, named "Gia Scott Heron".

According to their Indie-go-go account: www. indiegogo. com/Damn-Slam-Team-Needs-Help-Getting-to-Boston, she is the daughter of Gil Scott-Heron.  

Therefore, since Gil is the father of a poet on the national scene, this should put him back in for a special remembrance.  

dny




This is true.  Gia scott-heron, gil's daughter is on my slam team this year.  I'm sure she would be honored at any memorial to her dad.  We did lose a lot of great poets this year.  I can't wait to see how psi honors these poets

karen_g

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2011, 04:26:46 PM »


I've long felt (though not moved) that the best place to start with this entire issue is to - INITIALLY - "cap" any rememberances to "person who competed at a PSi event." I don't think we lose anybody that we've already remembered publicly to date with that stipulation.


[/quote]

That's what I'm referring to, but I get the difference between local/national split.

I guess my other question is, if we're just doing a moment of silence, then why are we even coming up with names & criteria?
Or are you talking about including names in a program? Because if it's names in a program, I think it can be broader than verbal recognition on a stage (maybe).Although I don't think even a verbal roll call on stage would take as long as a slam poem.

Also, to be clear, I know what we have going on for NPS '11 was voted on & decided months ago, for the most part, so suggestions I have would be toward the future (& I'm not even really messing with the format of the reading because Angus has really set up a great method).The suggestion I had is nowhere near a full memorial---more shout out than anything.
nerak_g

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2011, 04:32:22 PM »
Oh~Nevermind, I see what it is at the top~names & then silence. Gotcha.
nerak_g

danstrack

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Re: NPS 2011: Poets to be remembered
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2011, 08:12:58 PM »
I've read through this whole thread several times and have some thoughts to share. 

Scott: I understand that we need to focus on the WHO in order to inform the HOW.  At the same time, based on the list we're currently looking at, I feel like the how and the who are deeply intertwined and it is difficult to separate them.  My thoughts on the WHO:

Here in Austin, my community and I were deeply affected by the loss of Sheila Siobhan earlier this year.  She was the mother of Shannon Leigh and the founder of Austin's youth slam organization, the Texas Youth Word Collective.  She led teams to youth nationals for many years, even after Shannon's passing.  Several members of both Austin Slam and Austin Neo-Soul were groomed under her leadership and now compete on our national adult teams. 

However, in your proposal:
Quote
to - INITIALLY - "cap" any remembrances to "person who competed at a PSi event." 
... plus the staff/former staff of PSI or NPS...

...it would in fact exclude Shelia from receiving a special remembrance, since she never competed at NPS, nor worked directly on the staff (as far as I know... unless she was involved in 06/07?).  From my perspective, this seems like an unfair distinction. 

Therefore, continuing to focus on the who, we now have two different lists, those who competed at NPS (or staff):
Will Da Real One Bell, Cheryl B(urke), Kent Foreman, Maria McCray, Michael Birkinshaw, David Blair.

And those who have been proposed but would not make the cut:
Sheila Siobhan (mother of NPS finals poet, vital figure in central texas slam), Gil Scott-Heron (father of NPS poet, spoken word pioneer), Melissa Heagerty (10 year supporter of slam, door person, superfan, owner of one of the largest chapbook collections in existence).

As Simone wrote in her initial post, the goal here is to create a list of "slam family members" we lost this year who had "national impact":

Quote
If you can recall the name of a slam family member whom we lost this year who had national impact --meaning that their name and/or deeds would be appropriate for the community to recall at a national event-- I would like to hear about it. I admit that we will not have time to memorialize any of these people in the way they deserve, but we would at least like to make sure we speak their names on the Finals stage and take a moment to reflect.

***
Based on all this, here's my thoughts on the HOW:

So...  These names will be mentioned on finals stage prior to a moment of silence, or (as Karen suggested) listed in the program.  It seems that we are facing the following questions/problems:

1) Is this just a list of names, or will it include information about each person's impact on our community?

2) In either case, does having a longer list of names lessen the impact of each individual name listed?  (I.e., Is a long list bad?)

- To question #2, I would say "no".  The affect of one person's life on another is so huge, it is far better to include each name than to worry about wasting a few seconds of stagetime.  Each of us was affected by different people on these lists in many different ways.  During the moment of silence, I know that I will be thinking of Shelia, because I was not well acquainted with any of the other names.  It would be far worse to leave a name off or forget a name, than to risk having someone in the audience feel the double pain of not only losing a loved one, but then having the name of that loved one omitted from a special ceremony that should instead be honoring them.  As Karen said, even a verbal roll call wouldn't take as long as a slam poem (even if it is a long list of names).

3) When dealing with a well known poet such as Gil Scott-Heron, are we co-opting someone else's loss into our slam show via a special remembrance?  Would this be offensive to his memory or family? 

- Now, it would certainly be in poor taste for PSI to co-opt a nationally known artist for a special mention if they had no impact on our community.  No one wants that, nor to be perceived as having done that.  For instance, it could be (probably foolishly) argued that Amy Winehouse deserves special mention (for some reason or another).  But in this case, just because I don't personally know Gia, doesn't make her loss any less important to her and the local slam community out in LA.  She's a part of our national slam family, her father was an inspiration on the national community, I think he deserves to be part of this list.  Indeed, as damnyo4000 wrote, Gia would be honored by any special remembrance to her father.  So we don't have to worry about any action we take being offensive. 

By the same token, I don't think anyone could justifiably argue for Shelia to be excluded for a remembrance, just because she is the mother of a national poet, and only had an impact on the central Texas community.