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Main => General Discussion => Topic started by: Evan on August 30, 2007, 01:28:00 AM

Title: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Evan on August 30, 2007, 01:28:00 AM
this is what happens when you stay up too late. crazy question pop into your head....either that or poems.

ok, so when did you 'fall in love' with spoken word/slam?

for me, it was the love of poetry first....listening to my mother playing the 'records' of Nikki Giovanni and the Last Poets on Saturday mornings. i didnt 'fall in love' with spoken word/slam until NPS 04 invaded St. Louis....i got to see, meet and hear the poets i watched on Def Poetry and other dope poets. so many different styles of poetry, so many topics, spoken with such passion.....i was hooked!

Even though there is a lot of negativity surrounding NPS 04, it were i 'fell in love' with spoken word/slam....
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Steve on August 30, 2007, 06:07:27 AM
Evan,  I think some of us who have been around for a long time need to reflect on all the positive Slam does in the world more than think of the "negativity" of any event. I think it is noble (and I know that is a powerful word) that even when it stumbles, slam still has such profound impact on a poet's soul. For our community to continue to focus on the negativity of any event does the concept of Poetry Slam and the organization of Poetry Slam, Inc. a profound disservice.

I first met slam in Ann Arbor in November of 1988. Watched once and slammed the next time. I have been hopelessly addicted ever since. And while I no longer play in the Slams, I love watching the conversion of others who do. I too came to poetry first and slam second, but for me it was such a natural marriage. And here I am 19 years later...still here and still in love.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Scott Woods on August 30, 2007, 08:51:45 AM
I got involved with Slam by being invited to a very bad college slam.
I knew there had to be other, better ones.  So I investigated them and started one from scratch at my night.  The love was instant: the audience dug it, the poets really tried to bring something out of themselves, and it was pretty much on from there.  By the time I got to my first non-Columbus slam, I was already into it.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: jesster on August 30, 2007, 09:30:55 AM
Around 2003, I started watching Def Poetry on HBO.  I liked several of the poets, disliked quite a few others.  At the time, I was teaching an experimental improv class and wanted to try musical improv, but couldn't find someone to accompany us.  Then I saw a group called Floetry, where one woman harmonized while the other spoke.  Then it all clicked and I started working on The Hook, which combines a capella music, improv, and poetry.  It was magic

After having some success teaching and performing this, I decided I needed to try and immerse myself in written slam poetry to see what else I could do with this.  I started performing at Cup of Joe in Salt Lake City in Late 2006/Early 2007 expecting to be booed off stage for what I was doing and instead was embraced whole heartedly by the community.

So there's my love origins for the improvised and written aspects.

-Jesster
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Delrica on August 30, 2007, 10:14:50 AM
Mannnnnnnnnnnnn...

Eff Spoken Word...AND Slam!

I hate both those hoes! You spend all that time and money on their asses, trying to finesse the situation and get them all in the mood...

And then they don't put out!

Damn gold diggers...

 8)
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Gabrielle on August 30, 2007, 02:17:49 PM
The first time I went to a slam I was living in Boston with my folks to get enough money to move to Seattle. I saw the Cantab listed and checked it out. This chick named Patricia Smith was featuring with Cleveland's Black Poetic Society.. my jaw hit the floor. I had no idea until that night you could get a hundred plus people on their feet shaking their fist and screaming with just. words (unless you're, you know, JFK or MLK something.)

I wanted to be her. I was hooked.

Now I'm basically the ultimate fan, saving others' performances for the legions to watch. :)
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: puroshaggy on August 30, 2007, 02:24:36 PM
I fell in love with Slam at my first one, in San Antonio, the first PuroSlam ever...I still love PuroSlam, and I love certain slams, but I can't say I honestly love Spoken word.....I get bored easily and there's too much out there that is Paint By Numbers poetry...saw a lot of it at Nats this year......and very few poets really take chances, in my opinion.....But a good slam, where there's heckling and hooting and hollering and Honest Reaction...I love that!!!!..and there just isn't enough of that in the scene....

So all you touring poets out there...Come to San Anto!!!!!

shaggy
puroslam slammaster
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: bobdapoet on August 30, 2007, 02:37:44 PM
Oh, that's an easy one, Spring 1994. I was looking for a reading, an open mic, and attended several that were busts. A friend, Andrew Berger of Funky Clown Town Fame, suggested a slam at a jazz bar called The Orbit, hosted by Sarge Linticum and Mary McCann. I went once and was literally scared to death, even in watching...

Kept going back, and finally read at one, totally sucked but didn't care...

It was mostly Mary, she had a poem about riding her Harley that is genuine poetry first, but she immersed herself in it as she read it, like she was pulling back all the sounds, sensations and sights from the ride that inspired the poem. It is very genuine, very self-exposing.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: linzm on August 30, 2007, 03:16:51 PM
Denver, Mercury Cafe, my senior year of high school.  Blair was the feature the first night I went, and I was hooked from the start.  The little voice in my head went, "Hey, I can do that!"  When I moved to Tucson, it occurred to me that living without slam was not really an option, and I needed to get one started for the sake of my own sanity.  I was lucky enough to fall in with other people who felt the same.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Evan on August 31, 2007, 11:37:49 AM
Quote
For our community to continue to focus on the negativity of any event does the concept of Poetry Slam and the organization of Poetry Slam, Inc. a profound disservice.

Preach on Preacha...Preach on!!

Thanks for sharing your stories. sometimes its good to remember when the seed was planted!

Steve, all i can say to you....is WOW! 1988 and you are still involved....one day i would really like to pick your brain about this thing we call SLAM!
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Steve on August 31, 2007, 04:33:50 PM
Well, just come on over on my porch some day and we can yell at the kids on my lawn together!
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: dbodinem on August 31, 2007, 04:56:13 PM
Kind of a long story:

I fell in love with poetry in 1984-85, started writing, reading it.

Started reading in 1985-86 at a place in Denver called Muddy's Java Cafe, it was mostly a bunch of poets reading their work around a table, but occasionally some would perform more (I tried to read clearly but didn't really perform) then went to college and started reading at a place called Penny Lane in Boulder, CO (1987-88).  Still pretty much reading, though I do remember a reading by Peter Michaelson that I really enjoyed and a Spoken Word performance by the 7UP guy ("Crisp and Clean and no caffeine.." at school that blew me away.

Got away from readings, wrote some very bad novels, worked shitty jobs until 1997.  In 1997, basically got divorced, hated my job and started going to a weekly reading and was hooked by watching Bob Wilson, Danny Solis, Matthew John Conley, Lisa Gill, and Kenn Rodriguez.  Started my own reading in 1999 and started having some success in slam in 2001, but ultimately became a slam junkie in 2002 when I finally made the team and started hosting my own slam.


Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Bob Whoopeecat Stephenson on August 31, 2007, 07:50:01 PM
I started writing more poetry in 1985 when I couldn't take my horn on the road with me while opening restaurants.  Seems guys in the La Quinta Inns didn't like staying up till all hours listening to me doing jazz progressions and improving to Gillespie/Bird tapes.  1997 found me trying to read with poets at Barnes & Noble.  My girlfriend at the time, "if it's going to be this boring, I may have to stay home next time".  I found Clebo Rainy hosting a poetry slam at a club in Deep Ellum called the "Red Room".  I was home.  I started reading a little that year, progressed through the next few, got hooked for good after my first experience watching Jason Carney, GNO and Jason Edwards do the "Super Heroes" poem in 1998/99.  8 years since-running slams with Rock Baby, starting a new slam in Dallas.....and now were coming back home to Deep Ellum in September, getting to work with great people on the National level so that this art form can keep evolving.  I'm digging the fact that I made the choice to go to Deep Ellum for a more exciting form of poetry because I didn't want my future wife to "stay home next time".       
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: andremichaelbolten on September 02, 2007, 05:57:02 AM
I started writing poetry aged 14 and definitely fell in love with spoken word eight years later, at my first reading, I did with two poet friends of mine in 1978. During the break a young girl came up to me and asked, if she could handcopy one of the poems, I had read during the first set. While looking for the page, I asked her, why she wants to copy it. She held her breath for a second and said "I want to give it to my parents to read it." And as it was a poem about the authoritarian power, parents perform on their children, simply because they are the parents, I was knocked out and blown away. Aged 22 it felt pretty good to realize that my words can be an axe.

It did not take long, until I realized that all my poems are written to be recited. But back then there weren't that many chances, opportunities and venues to do so, in Germany. I worked with musicians, dancers, pantomime, painters, sculpturers and performance artists. So I already had my share and paid my dues when I witnessed my first poetry slam. Miguel Algarin and Bob Holman had invited me to take part in the Deutsch Nuyorican Poetry Festival on Manhattan Island, in November 1995. And before the first poet was done, I knew I would start a slam, when back home again. Because of my love for spoken word, to offer a platform to those, who care about how to "read" their stuff in front of audiences and to have some fun myself. So in September 1996, I became slammaster and mc of one of the first regular poetry slams in Germany.


andré

poet, percussionist & storyteller
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: suziqsmith on September 02, 2007, 08:46:26 PM

Started reading in 1985-86 at a place in Denver called Muddy's Java Cafe

I used to LOVE Muddy's - its walls witnessed much of my teen angst . . .

And as for my love story with poetry - I'm pretty sure we were betrothed before I was born.  My great-grandfather was a poet, my bedtime stories were often Langston Hughes or Edna St. Vincent Millay, and my aunts recite Paul Laurence Dunbar poems at family reunions. 

I started reading out at a coffeehouse called The Black Pearl in 1994/1995.  The first time I went, people in the back were heckling the poets.  I was a youngster then, and hearing Denver's legends for the first time; the entire experience was a little intimidating.   I kept going back every week for MONTHS before I finally got the courage to read . . . it's been a wild affair ever since.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: BeverlyWilkinson on September 03, 2007, 11:22:05 PM
I used to have these ritual nights at a local bookstore.  They consisted of much coffee, a journal and stacks of poetry books.  One night in February of 2000 the cafe was super crowded and i gave up the chair my jacket was slung over to a guy with a passion for poetry.  We started talking and after he inventoried my stacks, recited an e e cummings poem to me from memory.  ::swoon::  He asked me out on a date and took me to an open mic in Newark.  He ended up moving away but I became faithful to the open mic.  This is when I actually started writing.  Through my connections at the reading I found myself at Polomas in Baltmore when the Slamamerica tour came rolling through.

That night I saw Kwazi Davis (forgive me if I'm not spelling that right) do his poem about Beverly and the cherry tomatoes.  I saw Adam Stone do a poem about love and a spider.  Every hair on my body stood on end.  I met Danny Solis, Tony Brown, Seren Divine ...so many more.  I found myself in a hotel room with Denise Johnson and on a bed shooting the shit with Gary Glazner and Cass King.  I know I'm name dropping but you have to understand how in awe I was--how this was the moment I fell in love with it all.  It wasn't just the words on stage it was the ones off stage as well.  The unbelieveable hearts I met that night--I've been crushing on them ever since, selfishly wondering if someday someone might look at me the same way.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Scott Woods on September 04, 2007, 06:51:13 AM
I started writing more poetry in 1985 when I couldn't take my horn on the road with me while opening restaurants.  Seems guys in the La Quinta Inns didn't like staying up till all hours listening to me doing jazz progressions and improving to Gillespie/Bird tapes.  1997 found me trying to read with poets at Barnes & Noble.  My girlfriend at the time, "if it's going to be this boring, I may have to stay home next time".  I found Clebo Rainy hosting a poetry slam at a club in Deep Ellum called the "Red Room".  I was home.  I started reading a little that year, progressed through the next few, got hooked for good after my first experience watching Jason Carney, GNO and Jason Edwards do the "Super Heroes" poem in 1998/99.  8 years since-running slams with Rock Baby, starting a new slam in Dallas.....and now were coming back home to Deep Ellum in September, getting to work with great people on the National level so that this art form can keep evolving.  I'm digging the fact that I made the choice to go to Deep Ellum for a more exciting form of poetry because I didn't want my future wife to "stay home next time".       

Wait a minute: WHAT horn?!
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Delrica on September 04, 2007, 07:16:56 AM
Scott...

Just accept that you don't know everything (and that you're not Zod) and move on...

We've already done so  8) :P ;D
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Bob Whoopeecat Stephenson on September 04, 2007, 11:40:43 PM
I started writing more poetry in 1985 when I couldn't take my horn on the road with me while opening restaurants.  Seems guys in the La Quinta Inns didn't like staying up till all hours listening to me doing jazz progressions and improving to Gillespie/Bird tapes.  Ellum for a more exciting form of poetry because I didn't want my future wife to "stay home next time".       

Wait a minute: WHAT horn?!

I have jumped back a bit and have a bell front baritone sitting about two feet from my computer now.  It gets played rarely.  I used to play euphonium, bell front baritone, valve trombone, trombone, bass trombone and super bone at one point.  Being neglected at the moment.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Evan on September 05, 2007, 12:01:22 AM
im still in awe that so many have responded to this.......ALL OF YOU ROCK!!

Quote
It wasn't just the words on stage it was the ones off stage as well.  The unbelieveable hearts I met that night--I've been crushing on them ever since, selfishly wondering if someday someone might look at me the same way.

That what keeps going back to NPS and Southern Fried.....the words of the poets, on and off stage. its feels weird to have a conversation with a poet...who's work i read two years earlier and was floored by.....but its a beautiful thing to have them TALK with you, even if they dont know YOUR name....just sorta kinda remember your face...lol.

Quote
Aged 22 it felt pretty good to realize that my words can be an axe.

at any age, you should feel pretty good about your words moving someone!
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: mikehenry on September 05, 2007, 12:01:55 AM
Like many of the others here, was "all in" first slam I saw.  It was 1994, and this guy named Wammo started slam in Austin at a club called Emo's -- which was then and still remains the most punk rock club I've ever seen a slam in -- as a qualifying event for poets to get to perform at the Lollapalooza Tour's spoken word stage that summer.  It was awesome.  There was a tangible tension mixed with begrudging respect in both directions between the poets and the punks (and those who fit in both camps) and it felt like the night could completely jump the tracks at any moment.  

I'd been doing open mics for a few years, was hosting the two biggest ones in town, and a monthly gig with a spoken word ensemble called the Blue Plate Poets.  So, yeah, I thought I knew a few things.  Walked in, signed up, got my clock cleaned and I was kicked to the curb in the first round.  And immediately, absolutely knew that I was home.  Drank beer for the rest of the night and came back the next week.   We moved the slam to the club I booked (the Electric Lounge) a couple months later.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  First NPS the next year, haven't missed one since, don't intend to.

Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Scott Woods on September 05, 2007, 07:33:46 AM
I have jumped back a bit and have a bell front baritone sitting about two feet from my computer now.  It gets played rarely.  I used to play euphonium, bell front baritone, valve trombone, trombone, bass trombone and super bone at one point.  Being neglected at the moment.


Dude: *I* used to play baritone in school!
I've switched back to the much lighter piano.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Raulspokenwords101 on September 06, 2007, 02:04:47 PM
Though I started writing poetry (bad poetry) in high school. I think i ended up doing it backwards from most poeple. I was a theatre freak first. Loved the power of speaking a message through performance. Tried to fine tune it by moving away from monologues and plays and found "interp"/forensics/college competitions which raised the bar on my poetry. since 97 i've been writing performance poetry and hosting open mics. This is when i fell in love with poetry. I saw the power of how different people speak their minds or express highs and lows in life. People were real at open mics. Then (with the Documentary Slam Nation to show peeps what posibilities lie ahead) we sparked interest in poetry slam. Now 2007, i help co-slammaster Amarillo's Slamarillo. Took our first team to NPS and it's like a poetry writing revival.

peace and love

Raul "magic man" Rodarte
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: mikemlek on September 06, 2007, 06:25:56 PM
I don't know...I'm still falling ever more deeply in love with Slam.

My first slam ever was my freshman year of college, a few years ago, and I had no idea what to expect. I just wanted to go rap for people. Some dude named Jaylee Alde was the feature poet...haha I remember actually thinking "Man, this guy doesn't even rhyme. Boring!" I was so clueless...But I liked some other kids who were slamming that night, and kept coming out.

I think the first time I ever heard Saul Williams was probably what got me interested in Slam/Spoken Word and even poetry in general, bridging it with Hip-Hop.

College Nationals 07 opened my eyes to a whole bunch of amazing poets and people. It was the first time I knew that Slam was the love of my life.

I can say for sure though that NPS this year, my first time, reinvigorated my faith in poetry and slam and the world in general. Indie Finals. Danny Sherrard. That moth. No turning back now.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: donielle monique on September 10, 2007, 08:01:14 AM
There was always a "love" or "extreme like" with poetry since about 10 years ago. I fell in love with poetry, as in cant do without it, February 2006 at IWPS in North Carolina and I have been a stalker ever since!
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Delrica on September 11, 2007, 01:24:35 PM
There was always a "love" or "extreme like" with poetry since about 10 years ago. I fell in love with poetry, as in cant do without it, February 2006 at IWPS in North Carolina and I have been a stalker ever since!


Was it my breakup haiku? You can tell me. It gets people every time ;)
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: TSPrunier on September 11, 2007, 01:48:50 PM
My love story is one of triumph over apathetic stick-in-the-muddedness inherited from my father. It took me years to take up my pen professionally and, even though I was enthralled with Def Poetry on HBO and later on Broadway, I still didn't believe a 31-year-old white male was permitted to step onto the stage. It wasn't until reruns, and noticing Steve Colman and Taylor Mali and GeminEye that I gave myself permission/overcame my fear to do this. And then we moved from the venue-rich Northern Jersey/New York area to Richmond, VA.

Two years and a few months later, after hearing rumblings about the largely underground scene in Richmond, I finally found a listing for an open mic. I went. Two weeks later, I showed up at the monthly slam, poem in hand, came in third and have been hooked ever since.

A few months later, I won the slam and was shut out of all competition for another 10 months (if you win, you can only open mic). I got bored and went online to get some books and DVDs, and found SlamNation. The story gets awfully familiar from there - Launched a venue, learned how to beg for money, made a bunch of friends throughout the country, etc., etc.

Now, as I step down as slam master, I look forward to making up for lost time with my writing. I not only look forward to competitions, but the open mic, my next book(s) and a CD next year. And touring. Addicted and loving it.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: JeFFStumpo on September 15, 2007, 04:25:56 PM
When I was an undergrad,  I was already into poetry that worked on the page. And I was into poetry that sounded good, but was so often disappointed upon actually coming across a reading/recording of these wonderfully evocative voices. One of the most disheartening experiences in the world is to listen to Langston Hughes read his own work. There is no blues, no jazz, no nothing to his voice. Eliot's Waste Land is incredible in terms of sound (I think James Baldwin said that he discovered jazz on the page from reading Eliot), but no readings of it ever did it justice. I'd read postmodernists who had a gorgeous sense of sound on the page (let's skip sense of sense for the moment) but just monotoned on in public - and this from poets who were specifically trying to break language down into phonemes and rhythms!

Then came Firefly. There was a local homeless guy named, no BS, John Firefly. He'd come onto campus sometimes, and I heard him read at an open mic in the basement of the student center. The guy just came alive, and it was the first time I heard someone read in such a way that everyone in the room had to listen. Whether the actual words will survive into posterity, I have my doubts (no offense intended to John if he ever comes across this)(but I do still have copies of every poem you gave me). But this was an electric presentation. Of course, I inadvertantly got him banned from the local Barnes & Noble - invited him there as a special reader (along with John O'Leary, see below). They arm-wrestled to see who would go first - the genuinely homeless black man and the homeless-looking Irish bard. Firefly had to go first, and breaks out a poem about watching himself in the mirror as he has sex. Little old ladies get up. Complaints are made. No more Firefly at B&N in Bloomington, IL.

That was the jab. The hook came in the form of an Irish poet named John O'Leary, who was the visiting writer-in-residence. This guy is amazing, and a poet in the deep, old sense of the word. His father used to make him study poetry each day, and you could walk up to him on campus and say, for example, "Paradise Lost, Book V, go," and he'd start quoting Milton. As for Virgil, and he'd go off in Latin. He was an obsessive revisionist (much like myself), and you'd see him walking around campus or smoking somewhere, and you knew from the look in his eye he was revising a sonnet. If you get the chance, try to get hold of either of his books of sonnets (Salt and Sea, respectively, both from the now-defunct Zenane Independent Media). Had a wonderful speaking voice, full of whatever it needed to be full of at the moment. Had excellent poetry, such that his good voice never had to carry a bad poem. Introduced me to the power of memorizing work, my own and others', and in refusing to let out a poem before it was ready, even if that took five or ten years.

That's love for the spoken word. Still trying to figure out if I ever fell in love with slam, or if I just use it to get people who wouldn't otherwise be interested in poetry, well, interested...
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: WonderDave on September 17, 2007, 01:43:07 PM
Rustbelt 2007- that's right, real recently.
I started flirting with slam back in 01 here in MN, Thadra Sheridan ( I loved the piece she did that night by the way) saw me do a reading of some Lydia Lunch-esque stuff (for lack of a better mildly insulting word) .She invited me to the slam and I started going. I  had a few pieces I'd do but I was big into Improv at the time and there were schedule conflicts.
Nats was here in 02 but I didn't get to see a lot of it because I worked nights at a pub in South Minneapolis and was so broke at the time I couldn't afford to miss work.
Then in 2006 I got more into it actually competing enough to make the semi-finals here; I BOMBED hard fisrt round and then my acting career got a nice kick in the ass shoortly after. This made me realize I wanted to perform more and even make a living doing so (which I do now for the most part).  I took over Kieran's open mic one night invited everyone I knew And packed the house and got asked to stay on as co-host and then ended up taking the whole thing on solo. I had done a nice job of increasing attendance at the open mic and when Cynthia French was looking for someone to take over the slams she approached me ( and others including co-SM Allison) and Asked if I was interested. The show that was making me good money at the time was a about to end And I enjoyed running the open mic and helll I was at most slams anyway. So I said yes.

Then this past year I did our W&YI bouts (in LaX vs Milwaukee & in Des Moines vs Licoln and Omaha), the Amnesty International Slam in Milwaukee (where I was way out of my league) and those were sort of my courtship period. Then Came the Slammasters meeting in Madison. I had met Ed Mabrey( who organized the last RB) at the Amnesty Slam and knew he was running rustbelt this year. My Slam wasn't going to have the money to send a team to Rustbelt but I figured I could afford to ditch out on work for a few days and go see some kick ass poetry. So I bought a greyhound ticket (this drunk guy fell asleep on me) and went down to host some bouts.

It was fuckin' beautiful.
Amazing poets, amazing people, All these words blowin' my mind.

I realized that this was a community that I wanted and maybe even needed to be a part of.
Nats just furthered that bond. Oh the hippie love crap that has ensued.

So yeah Rust Belt 07
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: breakinthemix on September 27, 2007, 11:56:03 PM
I started writing quite early--short stories in elementary, poems in middle school. Middle school was the first time I was ever exposed to slam as well--I was in 7th grade and I attended a local slam that was organized by a teacher at the high school (who I later had several times as a teacher in my high school career and who became my favorite teacher, hands down) and attended by many students from the high school. Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed by the "older crowd" but I open mic'ed one of my pieces and the next year actually slammed. So I suppose the first seeds of interest where planted in middle school, but I don't think it was until high school that I really "fell in love" with slam or spoken word.

Recently I've become more interested in it, attending small local slams in the past 2 years and so on. Unfortunately, my current car-less situation at college right now limits how often I can go to slams and open mic events, but I still try to get out as much as I can.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: mikec 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...
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Ransacked 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.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Evan 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.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: explosionof9 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.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: dlhoratio 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.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: explosionof9 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
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: dlhoratio on December 30, 2007, 04:00:20 PM
By that logic, how much would you owe J. M. Barrie?  :P  No worries, friend.
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: mythosresurgence 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
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Euphrates 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
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Cassie Poe 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!   :-*
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Denver Slam 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)
Title: Re: When Did You 'Fall In Love' With Spoken Word/Slam
Post by: Faylita Hicks 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.