Tuesday, March 07, 2006

slam night

Student film-makers Hilary and Lauren were at the Vancouver Poetry Slam last night, following up on some work they began at the CBC Face Off. They're making a film about slam poetry, and came back for some interviews and more performance footage. These young women are gracious and confident. They enjoy their work. It's been fun being part of what they're doing. I hope to take my 15 year old, Alex to see the finished work. He taking multi-media classes at secondary school, and planning to continue with this at BCIT after he graduates.

The slam was big and fun last night, with some of my favourite new poets performing. My friend Irene read at the open mic - a stunner of a poem called "Coffin on my Back." She was first up, usually a challenge to a performer, but everyone stopped their talking and dish-clanking and got caught up in her story. I'm glad she was there, sparkling with beauty and knocking us out with her work.

I competed. Tied for the last slot in the second round and lost in the haiku-off to Kyle, who deserved to win. Our haikus both stunk, but mine stunk worse. I have to get something ready for those situations. I'm often on the edge of in-or-out in the competition. If a haiku's going to make the difference I'll have to come with one in my pocket.

Patrick Swan, Vancouver's own representative at the recent individual World Championship Poetry Slame in Charlotte NC, featured. His heart, humour and mastery of sound and voice are astonishing. It was a good show, especially when he invited a friend to come on stage to read his second-to-last piece. You had to see it. It was one of the funniest moments I have ever seen at the poetry slam.

During the break, my friend and slam host Graham had to leave unexpectedly. So he asked me to host the second round. I did it. It was a bit nerve-wracking, at first, but I had help from my friend Sean who acted as time-keeper and double-checked the scores. Then we had two poets tied for second/third place so we had a slam-off with two additional poems. I felt so grateful for the audience (who stayed even when Monday turned into Tuesday before the show was over), the judges (who hung in there for the most part, and new ones volunteered when some had to leave) and to my friend, the Svelte Ms Spelt, who helped me be sure what to do about the tie, especially when we couldn't find one of the two poets at first.

Zaccheus Jackson won the slam. Emily and Sarah tied for second, with Sarah winning the tie-breaking slam-off.

The good thing is, no matter what happens, there's a big supportive community of people who will make sure that the slam happens. I counted four or five people in the room who would have readily jumped in to host if needed. That's why I love the slam - yes for the poems, but more for the people. I have hosted a small, occasional slam for the Port Moody Arts Festival a few times, and once for the Chocolate Festival, also in Port Moody. This was my first time on the stage as host at the Vancouver Slam. I had no hesitation. I knew I was in the midst of people who I love and upon whom I can rely.

I will consider Monday night a hosting warm-up. I've been asked to host the Sista'hood Slam later this month - part of Vancouver's Sista'hood Festival. This time I'll be ready. I might even have a haiku.

question: where do you find people who surprise and delight you?

mompoet - tired, happy, surprised

1 comment:

Carol said...

Well, at the moment, right here. Sounds like a blast.