February 23, 2016

Nitty Gritty Slam #112, February 16

I hadn’t been to the Nitty Gritty Slam since last year, well November 2015 to be accurate. Tonight there was a new crew in charge, Amani hosted the open mic & Jayton Landon was host of the Slam. As often happened in the past most of the folks in the Slam also participated in the open mic.

Amani was just back from a trip to Cuba (!), read a new poem “Embargo” then a beach poem, but almost overwhelmed by a noisy bar. Ian Macks read next, a couple poems about living in Troy & commuting to work on the bus. Ainsley read Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gently into that Good Night” for her grandfather who had passed on Valentine’s Day. I followed with the new-ish “Joe the Bartender.”

Due to the small crowd & only 3 Slam participants there were only 3 judges. Amani served as the “sacrificial poet.” The 3 contestants were Ainsley, Ian Macks & the late-arriving Poetyc Visionz. Again, due to the limited field there were 3 rounds with all 3 poets in each, with the cumulative score establishing the winner. There were no white-boards, 4x6 cards, or any of the usual accoutrements of a Slam. The host would simply ask each judge for their score & a sister at the bar would tally them. There also didn’t seem to be a time-keeper, but I could be wrong about that, since Jayton commented to Ian after one of his poems that he “had 3-minutes” that he didn’t have to cut it short. But it was just that his poem ended when it ended; to his credit Ian didn’t just go on & on, as many Slammers do, trying to fill the 3-minute time limit.

Jayton, Ainsley, Ian & P.V.
P.V. was clearly the winner with 2 of his pieces getting perfect 30s. But both Ainsley, who came in #2 & Ian at #3, got respectable scores in the mid to high 20s, boldly trying out some real poetry. Ian actually read some notebook ponderings that got him a 28.

After it was over a visiting poet from Philadelphia, Anthony, was brought up, who did some pretty conventional hip-hop rhymes with all the ole rap clichés thrown in.

It was pretty clear that the Nitty Gritty Slam is devolving, even to the point that during the usually stylized Slam introduction the 3-minute time limit was not mentioned, nor could anyone remember Marc Smith’s last name. At the end it was announced that the Nitty Gritty Slam would now be an open mic only on the 1st Tuesday of each month & a Slam on the 3rd Tuesday. But still at The Low Beat, 335 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM, $5.00.

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