July 6, 2014

Nitty Gritty Slam #73, July 1

I arrived at The Low Beat a little late, the open mic already in progress, Elizag on stage with a sermon to young people (god, I hated it years ago when the old folks preached at me). Poor Avery lamented that “she fell asleep on me…” Speaking of aging, Emily Gonzalez read “The Phenomenology of My Body.” Shannon Grant read some exquisite notebook angst about listening to a song, worrying about a lover. Aaron read a piece he said was written at the bar, “Just for Play.”

The night’s featured poet was up from Suffern with her entourage; Rachel Therres co-organizes Suffern Poetry & had performed as part of the Suffern Slam team during WordFest in April.  Her introductory poem said “I don’t want to moon over you” (& she didn’t). She did a mix of Slam pieces & some real poems, beginning with the list poem “30 Rejections,” then on to a piece about being from Baltimore. A Slam piece about her sister & comparing herself at the same age I recall from her performance in April. From her phone she read an anti-love poem “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Love Scorned.” She had a neat little fold-up broadside for sale, Anatomy of Brick, & read from it “Demands & Dedications” (even when she does a real poem it still sounds like Slam). Then on to a poem to her Mom, & ended with a list of catastrophes, about being told to smile. It was a good mix of poetry & performance & great knees.

It was a 9-contender Slam, most of them new names, but first a familiar one, Kevin, as the sacrificial poet/lamb who did o.p.p. (i.e., other people’s poetry, which is forbidden in Slam competition, but this was only for calibration purposes). The first round seemed front-loaded with Rachel’s entourage, but then AlbanyPoets are hospitable to visitors, & the judges scored, for the most part, “competitively” (as they say). It began with Eric (“hard & sleek”) reading, as did Jimmy his Slam parody silly rhymes, then Joe playing on computer terms, Jamey re-surfacing in the scene & lingering confused on stage, Samson, Trey (spelling?) with a love poem, Steve with another outrageous take on Slam (“Flight Attendant”), Amy with classic Slam (“someone fucked America”) & returning champ Amanda with a love poem.

5 were eliminated, so Round 2 found Amanda (lonesome love), Amy (from “cunt” to “vagina” in 3 minutes), Samson (on words & labels), & Joe (feeling bad about lost love) duking it out.

il papa Thom Francis, Amy, Amanda & Joe
In the final round, Amy went first (after the shoot-out), with another breathless list, this a love poem about dates & scored the night’s first 10 (meaningless, since the high & low scores are dropped). Amanda scored the 2nd — & 3rd — 10 of the night with a subway poem read way too fast, as is her style, & that 2nd 10 put her on top. 3rd place went to Joe.

The Nitty Gritty Slam, with an open mic & sometimes an outside feature, happens on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month at The Low Beat on Central Ave. (Valentines re-located, re-incarnated) — check AlbanyPoets.com for details. Good beer, too.

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