by Tiger Lilly

Spoken Word Poetry Slams are… awesome. There is no other word for it.

Let me give you a little backstory.

A couple weeks ago, Mom and I went to an art crawl in downtown Saint Paul, where the artists who live in the building open up their loft/studios so people can come and obsessively (they hope) buy their art. After looking at many different artists’ lofts and creations, we entered a loft that was especially cool. Why? Well, there was a cat living there…

Mom and I were looking around, and we got sucked into a conversation with the resident artist, Matthew Rucker. Then I hear, “I hope I’m not coming off as creepy, but could you pull your bangs out of your face and look at me for a sec?” Yeah, he was talking to me.

My first instinct was to look around wildly to make sure that Dad had found some discreet vantage point with a sniper rifle trained on the guy, but then I remembered that Dad was at home, although I’m sure his fatherly senses were going haywire, and he was reflexively reaching for the shotgun.

However, I did as the man asked, and he studied my face for a couple seconds. Finally, he said, “Sorry, but your eyes are really beautiful and I’d like to paint you.”

Aw, shucks.

He reverted back to normality (although I know most artists hate to be described as normal, I know I do), and told us about his Spoken Word Poetry Slams. I’ve seen a bit of Spoken Word before, it’s pretty fun. It’s poetry performed with a lot of emotion, wild movements, and a general aura of awesomeness. He gave us a flyer, and then we had to get going.

Well, I wanted to go to the Slam. Mom wanted to go, but she would be out to far past her bedtime. Ben couldn’t go, because he was ‘tired’ or some other lame excuse. I don’t know what Dad’s excuse was, he was probably planning some elaborate trap for the unsuspecting Mr Rucker involving ninja cows, harpoons, and trapdoors. I don’t know. Anyway, I convinced MD to go with me.

It was held at The Artists’ Quarter in downtown Saint Paul. It’s an 18+ club (But I got in!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!! Of course, it helped that they didn’t card you). It was also very loud and crowded. Faith and I hung out near the back wall for a bit. The opening act was some guy singing Bob Dylan covers.

TL: I don’t like his voice.
MD: Well, do you like Bob Dylan’s voice?
TL: I honestly can’t remember what he sounds like.

Finally, I spotted Mr Rucker, who was running this outfit. I went over and re-introduced myself, and he said he remembered me, which was nice.

No one had gotten up and left, so we were still out a couple of seats. We went back to hanging out at the back wall, when lo and behold, Mr Rucker reappeared and magically conjured up a couple of chairs at his table.

MD: Sweet!
TL: VIP service! Woohoo!

He even bought us drinks (water. And Sprite)!

The time finally came for the Slam to start. Mr Rucker got up on stage and started listing the rules for the Slam (it is a competition, and that night the 8 best national champions were going to compete to see who was going to represent Saint Paul in the Nationals in August. We came on the right night!), along with what it was all about. Apparently, Saint Paul has one of the best, if not the best, communities for Spoken Word.

Also, his vulgarity levels were incredibly erratic.

(When talking about the Nationals) Him: We beat them last year, and we are gonna beat these b******* again!!!
(Five minutes later) …anyway, it’s a lot of fun, and everyone just has a gosh darn good time.

The slam was going to consist of four rounds, and each poet had 3 minutes 10 seconds to present their poem. Faith declared that she wanted to leave at nine, unless we got really into it, then we would leave at 9:30. I was disappointed, but shrugged it off. She’s preggo!

Anyway, it started off with two people who just barely didn’t make it into the finals last year. The first up was Miles, who had a piece about the people who sit at the last mile of a marathon and cheer the runners on. She was very scathing, but funny.
The other just-barely was Neal (I think…). His style was very, very hellfire and brimstone. I mean, my goodness. His piece was about a car crash and regrets. There was one line from it, though, that really struck me:

I will lie here forever and sing to you all the things I stopped myself from saying when we were alive.

After that, the competitors were up. There were five randomly picked judges in the audience, who would give a score of 0 (Good LORD, please I never want to hear that CRAP ever again) to 10 (Hmmm… have a winning lottery ticket, or hear that poem again… winning lottery ticket? Hear that poem again?). Then, the scores would be added, and the overall score would be between zero and 30 (the highest score a poem can receive).

There were 8 contestants, but I’m only going to go into detail about the ones I like, because I’m biased like that.

Guante was first up. Faith and I both loved him. He reminded us of a certain spaz-monkey that lives a few doors down from us. His first poem was about a man’s handshake, and how it reflects what you’ve been taught that a man should be. How you’re supposed to be firm, powerful, and establish dominion over the other man’s handshake. He was hilarious. He scored a 26.7 in the first round and a 27.6 in the second.

Wonderdave was second, wearing sparkly Vans. He was adamant about gaiety. 25.4, 27.3.

Sam Cook compared Where the Wild Things Are to family problems in an interesting, if creepy, manner. I liked him, though. Scored 26.8 for both rounds.

Shane Hawley did a poem about the plight of Wile E Coyote and his never ending quest to get Road Runner. He was wild and funny, scoring 26.2, 27.4.

Michael Lee was kind of boring. He scored 25.9, 26.5.

Then there was Six is 9. Oy. I didn’t really like him, either. Everyone else did, though. He scored a round 27 in the first round, and 27.2 in the second.

Sierra DeMahlder I liked. Both her poems were about a parent’s pain in different situations. She was the only woman competing. Scored 26, 27.

Aaaand then there was… Dylan. [barf] His first poem was… was… I’m not even going to say it. Ask Faith in the comments section, maybe she’ll tell you if you really want to know. Anyway, he scored 25.8, 27.3.

After the second round, we had to leave. It was 10 o’ clock, and there were still two rounds to go. I got Mr Rucker’s card, though, and emailed him about who the winners were.

The team representing us is headed by Six is 9 (nooooo!), with Guante, Sierra, Sam Cook, and Shane Hawley behind him. That means that Michael Lee, Wonderdave, and Dylan did not make it.

They host Spoken Word Slams at the Artists’ Corner every first Monday of the month. The next one is June 7th, if you’re interested in going.

So that was my awesome experience getting Slammed. There you go, Dad! I wrote a blog.

Ciao for now!

2 thoughts on “Slammed

  1. Ahem. “I don’t know what Dad’s excuse was.” Perhaps Dad was going through a certain person’s manuscript one more time before it gets entered into a contest. I do believe someone said something about an impending deadline…

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