national slam blog: day 6...in conclusion
first off…I got aholt to some squeaky cheese (a+), fried cheese curds...check the pic (c-), and frozen custard (b) all in a matter of a few minutes, and of course videotaped the whole thing. as soon as I get to the crib and compress the footage I’ll post it here in all it’s goofy glory! lol
ok the championship bout on final stage was crazy good! and I found out who that fourth team was. lol Austin, new york louder arts, charlotte, and boston. final stage opened with a montage of arts stuff. an African band performed and then First Wave, a University of Wisconsin program dedicated to creating a community of hip hop and spoken word at UW danced with some poets mixed inbetween, including Mo Brown and Phenom (Detroit). poet josh healey, head honcho of first wave, performed a great piece about peter Norman, the Australian Olympian who stood with Tommie smith and john carlos at the 1968 olympics as they raised their fists in protest.
nps gave Shannon leigh’s mom, affectionately known as dr. Sheila, the spirit of slam award, followed by a very moving group performance of a poem dr. Sheila wrote about her daughter. during this dedication the poets read off stage, leaving the spotlight and one mic center stage in shannon’s honor. there were lots of tears on this one. Shannon made a definite impact in the poetry community and she is truly missed.
Dasha Kelly, this year’s national slam coordinator, performed an original piece and introduced the hostess with the mostest, Sonya renee. so the judges were in place, scorekeeper and bout manager, at their table, Sonya renee at the mic looking fabulous and an audience full of some Madison residents but mostly poets and poetry aficionados who had traveled across the country for this.
the bout was filled with interesting perspectives from personal accounts of homelessness and domestic violence to comical tributes to the state of texas to a letter from the perspective of charles chapman, a black man falsely accused of rape then exonerated decades later, to his accuser. charlotte stole the show with a group piece likened to the stolen identity commercials, where blkswan stood on stage alone at the mic, mouthing bluz vocal as he spoke from the perspective of a rapist while offstage. the piece was phenomenal and scored the only thirty of the night securing the championship for team charlotte. congrats to bluz, blkswan, starr, carlos robson, and mike simms for doing their thing again this year! down south all day!!!
this was my first year at nationals and I heard A LOT of poetry this week. so much poetry in fact that i might need a poetry break. no haikus, no sonnets, no couplets, i might not even listen to hip hop...ok...that's taking it too far. lol i'll be listening to hip hop as soon as i get back to my wonderful car coltrane. lol), the poetry...some good, some not-so-good, some inspirational, and some so abstract I still don’t get it, some amazing, and some that really spoke to my life.
there’s a slam phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit, that the points are not the point. but when you rehearse for weeks, memorizing, writing, meeting, strategizing how you can win, you start to feel that the opposite is really true. and sometimes maybe it is.
but on the way home to Atlanta (which I have sorely missed), after I rest up from the crazy schedule we’ve been keeping here and settle back into my normal routine, I hope to return to the heart and passion that sent me to penning words in the first place. I hope to remember that twelve year old girl who kept her poems in a steno pad and never thought about if an audience would like them. the freshman in college who just had something to say and stayed up late writing, only to get up early and write some more, wrestling with questions she wasn’t sure she’d ever have the answers to.
art in its truest form is never about the points, whether the points come from a judge’s scoreboard, soundscan ratings, uproarious applause, myspace plays per day, or the amount of dineros paid.
ahem…don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to have points and we all love dineros, cuz artists like to create just as much as we like to know someone’s looking or listening to what we do. and we especially like it if what we love to do can pay a bill or two. ☺ but I hope that no matter how many points or dineros I get for putting these words together that I still find it in my heart to do this because i love it. that waking up with words I can’t ignore is still what sends me to the page. I hope that will always be the point.