August 9, 2012

Nitty Gritty Slam, August 7: The Dain Brammage Memorial Invitational

There must have been something in the water (i.e., beer) at Valentines, with the Slam team off at the Nationals, for such a night of unrecordable poetry. The host was Mary Panza, abandoning her Vodka Mary persona to take on the serious role of MC/Slam Mistress, sans whip.

But first there was a perfunctory open mic (under the new rules that Slammers can do the open mic too). Avery was up first with a new piece "Oh, Wendy" about flirting (& getting a hardon) with a Mom at Tai Kwan Do, another of his signature 8th grade poems. Shannon Shoemaker also had a new piece, written today, sexy & oh so Shannon. I just had to read my poem written here last month, "Hemingway," flirting with a woman with tattoos on her feet.

Bob Sharkey hit us with the first of the night's list poems, wondering "Where is Baby Lisa, where is…, etc. etc. ?" Dan Nester's list poem was "I hate …" which by the end was pretty much everything. Emily Gonzalez's poem "Bertha" was about a white barnyard chicken, with a nod & cluck to WC Williams. Since he couldn't make it to the Slam Nationals (he had enough points but an inflexible boss), Kevin Peterson did a Slam poem for Steve & Lisa at the bar, who had come all the way from Montreal on their honeymoon to attend the Slam; but Kevin's poem was by Steve Connell, not his own.  Dan Nester made a 2nd appearance of the night as the white Mojavi with still another list poem, "13 Ways of Looking at Yo Mama." Leslie Michelle also did OPP (other people's poems) with still another list poem, this one by DC poet Kenneth Carroll.

The Slam was chaotic & probably uncertifiable by the Slam Committee (or certifiable, depending upon your frame of reference). With only 4 in the initial round, someone had to drop out of "the money," so to speak. Ironically, it had to be Shannon Shoemaker, but not for lack of energy, provocative images or spunk (whatever that means). I squeezed into the 2nd round (by 0.2) with my "Slam Poem" but that was it, ending up in 3rd ("in the money" just the same).

Slam poetry tries hard to make the process of judging "democratic" by selecting judges from the audience. This works well when there is a huge crowd to randomly select from. While not "huge" the audience was such tonight that the judges were mostly (other than Kevin who knows a bit about Slam poetry, & writing in general) the kind one would want for a Slam: inexperienced former business majors in college, unemployed alcoholics easily influenced by the price of a drink, etc.). They liked Bob Sharkey's working-class poems about Earl & drinking Guinness at the St. Paddy's Day Parade in NYC, enough to get him 2nd place.

But they really went ape-shit for Avery's axe-murder-panties/touching-anal-sex poems, & got him a couple of 10s (offset by one 0.5, which of course got dropped). He got first place.  Where was el presidente when we needed him?

The Nitty Gritty Slam is here at Valentines on New Scotland Ave. every 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month, but this was the first of the planned events each year when the Slam Team is at the Slam Nationals wherever they may be next. Details at

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