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This is the obligatory post-Nationals post. I'm not sorry for the length. This is my journal, dammit.
I showed up not knowing exactly how I would volunteer at Nats. I wasn't on any list despite being confirmed as a bout manager or emcee weeks earlier. I wound up getting a solo Bout Manager slot at 8:30 Wed Phyllis's; volunteered for Mike Henry's slot Bout Manager slot at 8:30 Thurs at the Subterranean upstairs and volunteered as co-Bout Manager with Rusty Russell's at the Subterranean upstairs Thurs at 10:00.
We went to Eitan Kadosh's party on the first night and drank and partied until late. The highlight, obviously was Klute's face dive into the grass out front. Tony D [info]italianpoet and I hunted for his car, then hunted for Eitan's house, then hunted for The Klute. Had we been sober, it would have been simple. However, being loaded, it was less than so.
The first bout I had was between DC-Baltimore, Ft. Worth, and Orange (CA). DC/Baltimore SlamMistress Delrica Andrews took a shine to me early on because she was new to Nationals and eager to watch a Nationals bout. Orange took the lead early and never let go. By the third round, DC/Baltimore had a slim lead but was knocked into third by Ft. Worth. Their SlamMaster raised a protest over a pair of judges, suggesting that they were writing down poet's scores to predetermine the winner. Both I an the emcee Cynthia French disagreed. The two women were loaded, and their scorecard which we got back was scribbled across. They hadn't even written down names, let alone teams. Also, there is no reason for them to not write down their own scores, if even to keep themselves consistant. Later, I spoke to Ms. Spelt and Phil West [info]pinata about the protest, who politely referred to it as 'The Education of Ft. Worth Protest'. Bout 10 Scores.
Afterward, I stayed for the Oakland, Minneapolis, Mesa slam held in the same venue, hosted by emcee Ms. Spelt from Vancouver and BM Nikki Patin from Chicago. Not reading scores between rounds threw a lot of hardcore slammers in the audience, but I can see their point; the show was 30 minutes behind schedule and the owner Clem (a great guy BTW) was riding them hard. Bout 17 Scores.
Afterward I headed to the Erotica Slam at the Subterranean but the venue was packed and the bouncers had stranded 100 poets out front. I bounced and hooked up with [info]theklute and Tapestry from Oklahoma City, who was competing as a Storm Poet.
I partied late into the night bouncing from room to room, finally meandering home around 5:00 am.
The next morning, Thursday, [info]theklute scored a limo to pick up his girlfriend [info]spacekadette. Funny enough, I didn't see them until the next day. I headed down to Filter for the Protest meeting but the venue was closed. En route, I scored a great Elmo t-shirt for $1.34, that I paid in dimes and nickels. I met up with the scorekeepers from the night before, one of whom knows Keith Bruecker from Monterrey, California. After scribbling down standings and networking, I scored some lunch with the Vegas crew and Jill from Vancouver.
Despite years of miss contacts, Andy Kenyon does exist, and she's dope. Her girlfriend is crazy cool, scrambling around with a camera, snapping away. I met them at pre-registration before we headed to Eitan's, then had lunch at a small restaurant across the triangle square from the Chopin Theater.
Andy and I went to the GLBT (formerly queer) reading hosted by the amazing Daphne Gottlieb and Ms. Spelt. Adam Stone (Boston-Cantab) rounded out the event with a haiku - an excellent seque as I caught the head-to-head Haiku immediately afterward. Ed Mabrey, Hillary Thomas, and Matthew John Conley trounced Lucy Anderton soundly, but the judges, well, hmm.
My second night's bouts were are the Subterranean, upstairs. Got there early and prepped stuff while 5th ranked NYC Union Square took out 25th ranked Ozarks (a unique team) and 52nd ranked Alaska. Bout 25 Scores.
Both Marty McConnell (Union Square) and Corinna Delgado (Alaska) broke my heart. Marty McConnell always breaks my heart. Her poem about the imperfections and nuances of her body ... why can't I move to NYC and live in her closet? Or maybe under the bed. Just come out when she wants someone to talk to.... I'd be the best boyfriend ever; she'd always be right, I can cook, I'd only talk when she wanted me to, and I'd massage her feet after a long day.
Next, I had Ottawa, Del Ray Beach, and Winston-Salem. By 8:30, Winston-Salem still hadn't arrived. Nikki Patin, the emcee, and I were shifting through the PSI Handbook to know what to do if a team didn't show up. Turns out, they were stranded out front due to an issue with an underage poet and a missing ID. Also, they were stoned as fuck. Why they didn't send up just one poet to check in ... who knows. In the end, Del Ray Beach won and Ottawa took second. Winston-Salem came in a distant third. A potential protest occurred when one Winston-Salem poet read solo, then read another piece while a teammate beat-boxed. While they don't have to specify who wrote the piece, it is a little, um er, suspect. Fortunately, Mariah Summers was the only one who noticed and felt no need to protest as her team won. Damn dirty hippies.Bout 32 Scores.
Next up was 24th ranked Albuquerque (with a 2), 37th ranked San Antonio (with a 2), and 49th ranked DC/Baltimore (with a 3). A strong win by either Albuquerque or San Antonio could have given them a shot at Semi-finals. Tense. The emcee was Michael Brown. The coach for San Antonio was Phil West and on Albuquerque's team was Danny Solis. Having these three old school giants of Slam in the same room was great, but a little unnerving. I did feel honored to be their bout manager, but I knew it was going to be tense. First, it was a little tough to get an honest, healthy mix of unaffiliated judges, but I think we did well. Second, I had to watch the competitors and Michael Brown like a hawk, on the off chance that someone who do or say something worthy of a protest. A few of Michael Brown's comments could have been a little biased and one of the teams did make an honest protest, but he clarified himself soon thereafter and the bout went off without a hitch. Bout 42 Scores.
Despite being hosted by Nick 'Self-Righteous' Fox I stayed for a good portion of the SlamMaster's Slam, but eventually could stomach no more and bolted. The DC/Baltimore crew offered me a lift back to the hotel, and while I waited, I went inside and scored a pair of Cape Cods from the downstairs Subterranean bar. And fell in love with an off-duty waitress Josephine.
Riding shotgun, we headed back. Saw the infamous (and way exaggerated) 'lesbian orgy' in Urbana's room. I spent the night in Montevallo's room playing poetry tag.
I woke up the next morning when Indigo Moor called.
Man on floor. No problem. Must be Adam Stone[info]akamuu. And that must be Star[info]thisistar on the window sill. Right?
An hour later, I roll over and look at the floor.
That's not Adam Stone. Who the fuck is that?
An hour later, An hour later [info]theklute wakes. We have no idea who this man is, so we wake him.
The boy is a Boston kid named Phil who scored a room key from Adam Stone. Though we didn't kick him out or anything, and even let the boy use the shower, he was noticeably uncomfortable until we arrive by cab at the Chopin Theater for the day's events.
First up, the amazingly fantastic Group Piece showcase. I love group poems, even bad ones more than most solo poems, even good ones. I wanted to catch the Latino/a showcase. Being from Phoenix and the atmosphere and neighborhoods in which I grew up, I often feel more comfortable in Latino neighborhoods than white ones. But a few of my friends were reading in the Fifth Wheel Slam and promises are promises. Why do they have to double book things like this? Glad I stayed. There was some tight shit.
I bolted down to the Semi-finals at the Subterranean (3rd New Orleans, 6th NYC-Urbana, 11th Denver, and 14th NYC-Nuyorican). For a much better review.
I adore Denver's Katie Wirsing with all my heart
Hopped the poetry trolley over the Metro Theater for Individual finals. I left [info]theklute and the crew I was with to find out who won the other three bouts and chat a little, then I planned to head back. The Metro opened up two ways and I stayed between the bouncers for just a sec. After glancing at my 'volunteer' ID, one bouncer said, "you workin' here tonight?"
"Um, yeah," I replied, then he let me in before they technically opened the doors. Yay karma.
Of the indies, I enjoyed Alaska's Corinna Delgado (7th) and Vancouver's Shane Koyczan (2nd). I ripped up my throat for Flagstaff's Suzy La Follette (6th), but she choose some of her weaker material to read. If nothing else, I can always say I knew her when.... According to Las Vegas' Andy Hall, Indy Slam Champion Mike Mcgee from San Jose is the first pure comic poet to win nats. Nifty. We need more humor. But the whole time, I kept wishing Josh Fleming was up on that stage going toe to toe. San Jose's SlamMistress Karen was in tears out of joy. That made me happy.
And what the fuck with Soul (I mean Robert, i.e., Bobby) Evans? Good performance, shitty poetry, but someone would have shot him by now for the crap he's pulled.
Back at the hotel with Corinna Delgado, security kicked us out of Vancouver's room so we gathered about a hundred people in the Ohio Room and hallway on the ground floor. Drinking and smoking until 5:00am....
Despite the great sideline events I saw and the bouts, and the random poems in random places, the single best, single most entertaining event was the Nerd Slam, held at Quimby's Bookstore and hosted by Shappy. Hilarious from start to finish. The highlight was the poem "Muppets are Awesome". Fuck. That shit was über-tight. I would have gone to the African American Showcase or the Hiss Slam had they been held nearer to the Wicker Park venues instead of BFE downtown. Why the University?
Back to the El train, Tony D and I stumbled across an actual Saturday afternoon Chicago block party. I'm game. Got myself some chips and free keg beer. Yay Chi-town.
Walked to the Navy Pier with Albuquerque. Danny Solis gave me the best compliment of Nats in reference to my Bout Management. He said, "You were a much better Bout Manager than Michael Brown was a Host. I'd give him a B-. I'd give you an A+." That made my week.
Well, Finals. Hmm. I liked the opening. Super. But where were the Black, Asian, and Latino voices in the opening? There were what, 3 Black poets on stage and no Latino or Asian poets? Despite that, the play back between voices reading snippets of famous slammers was great. But shoot Nick Fox. In the face.
What's irony kids?
[young boy raises hand in the front row]
"Is it when the giants of Slam do a 30 minute opening about how points aren't the point, the point is poetry then Marc Smith brings out 6 foot high score boards so we can keep track of the scores?"
That's right, Timmy! Here's a cookie.
Finals was all down hill from there.
I need not expand on that nor the hosting, except to say I liked Mike Mcgee a lot. He should have had a little showcase. I also like the first poem. I liked it less repeated 10 times. Someone should have lynched Carlos Gomez for the "what Black men, where Black men, why Black men..." poem. I was a little tee'd of by it.
It seemed to me that the 10 poems about the oppression of the Black community (a topic that should never be ignored in such a large, open forum and deserves a place in a Finals night Slam) were just another way to make a buck (or score more points) on the backs of the oppressed Black Community. Did anyone else get that feeling? The first poem was moving. To an audience that may not hear that voice, it may have moved some. After 10 poems, I felt so distanced from the topic that they blended into a congealed mass of repetitive prostitution of an idea that I can't even remember who did what or who was on what team. Highlights were Los Angeles's group poems, Austin's Genevieve Van Cleve, and Austin's amazing group poems about executions in Texas which I had seen earlier at the group poem showcase. Looking back at my program, none of the other names stand out. Finals should not be like that. They should be the best of the best. Inspiration, humor, drama, love, romance, and angst personified. Three poems and only one (bad, misogynist) love poem? Fuck that bullshit.
Oh, crap kiddies! We gotta hurry to catch the fireworks!
Who gives a fuck?! I came 1,500 miles and blew $1000 to listen to goddamned poetry.
Set 'em off under the tent for all I care.
I want the Word.
Blew $60 on 5ths of Vodka, Rum, and Southern Comfort and spread liberally at the hotel.
Stayed awake all night.
Made out with Kat from SF/Berkeley. Great kisser.
Saw Buddy Wakefield make out with Daphne Gottlieb. That rocked.
I also got to hang out with the über-amazing Katie Wirsing from Denver.
I hope I made a good impression, 'cause we could be friends for decades.
I kissed her too [blush]. All kidding aside, I could love her forever and ever.
Slept repeatedly on the floor of the airport.
Smelled like a beer soaked ashtray.
Slept on plane too.
Came home happy.
Writing poetry now....
This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 423,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.