This past saturday we had a special bonus edition of CapSlam. El Jones was in town and we couldn’t pass the opportunity of having feature at CapSlam, so there we were!
Since the festival (CFSW) ended, it was finally tiem for me to move past the three poems I was working over and over and do something different.
I wasn’t worried about winning… my scores have been good enough that I am pretty much guaranteed a semi-finals spot… it was about sharing poetry, which is what it ALWAYS is about.
I have only performed Drawing Lines once before – at the 2012 CapSlam semi-finals. It is a powerful piece that was primarily driven by my anger.
I started rememorizing it again… and the anger wasn’t there. I will talk more about the poem when I post it (it is next to go up), but while the content DESERVES some anger… this time it just made me sad and I decided I didn’t want to do it.
I switched to rememorizing Blue, Black or Red, which I haven’t performed in years. I was prompted to do then one when it came up in conversation with V at the festival in Montreal for soem reason. I referred to it and she wasn’t familiar with the poem. (I would have been surprised if she knew it. As I said, years.) I told her a little bit about it and said that it culminated in a particular line, which I told her. She really liked the line.
Now it was time to do some poetry for me, so I was going to pull out that line.
But now Drawing Lines was off the table and I didn’t have time to memorize another piece, so I decided to do Angst. I have done it a lot lately, but it also makes me really happy to peform it, so it’s all good.
First, before the slam, Ray asked me if I would do a workshop and feature at the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam in December. I agreed! I don’t feature very often but I really enjoy it. The workshop is another issue. Sarah Ruszala suggested that I do a workshop about running a slam. Maybe I will throw that past Ray. Usually they are writing workshops. We’ll see if there is interest.
The first round of the slam was going and I wasn’t keeping score. Normally I cna’t help it but since we are not reading the scores lowest to highest anymore (as part of a slam research study that I am doing), it takes at least a modicum of effort and, quite frankly, I couldn’t be bothered.
I did notice that PrufRock had a clear lead. I didn’t knwo his score but the numbers were a gap higher than anyone else.
I was called up… 8th, maybe? I dropped Blue, Black or Red. It went over really, REALLY well. The crowd was into it. My understated delivery was there. When I hit the big line (“He asks how she is. / She lies and says fine. / He lies and believes her.”) the crowd audibly popped. There were some ‘oooohhhhs’ and snaps. The piece went over bigger than it did when I performed it four years ago.
My scores came back and they were strong. I was in range with Pruf, and as of yet, nobody else was. That meant I was goign to the second round.
But Jamaal was still to come. He hit big. Clearly bigger. As there was a gap between Pruf and I and the field, there was also a clear leader… until they announced his time penalty.
In the end I had a 28.3 while Pruf and Jamaal both had 28.1 and the next closest scores (Sarah Ruszala and Alex McDonnell) both had 26.8
I phones Ruthanne and told her… but I never even talked about winning. I said I was in first but both Pruf and Jamaal were right there. I assumed at least one of them would outscore me in the second round. (I was right.)
Now this wasn’t a lack of confidence (totally), but respect for two top performers. I wasn’t digging deep to try and take the title… but I WAS doing one of my better scoring poems recently.
I went up… third, I think, in the second round. Pruf went before me and scored well, of course. I did Angst and also scored well, but without doign th emath, I thought I was a little below him. I shrugged and say, “no win for me!”
Ray heard me and disagreed. He we doign the rough math in his head and thought I was ahead of Pruf. I didn’t think so.
We were both wrong.
But first came Jamaal. His scores were also in the same range… but no better.
In the end, Brad read out the scores… 5th place Alex McDonnall… 4th place Sarah Ruszala… 3rd place Just Jamaal… and tied in first…
Ha! I’ll take a tie. We both get the #1 and split the prize and… wait, what is that Brad is saying?
Brad just informed the crowd that since we have time left, we are going to have a slam-off.
Do I have anything else memorized? I have a copy of Drawing Lines in my pocket, but I sure don’t want to perform it. Plus, I would be reading it.
Do I just concede? That would suck.
Brad called us both up to flip a coin to see who would go first. Pruf called tails and with mock-arrogance announced that I would go first, before the coin even hit the ground.
It was heads. Pruf would go first. I took off for the back to use the next 3 minutes to figure out what I would perform.
I ended up running The Stranger quickly to make sure I knew it. It was the ‘wrong’ poem strategically, or so I thought. But I didn’t really have choices. I just can’t DO unprepared poetry.
Pruf wrapped up his Douchebag poem to a huge ovation. I felt like I did at that Algonquin Slam where Sean Sullivan was ripping it up and I wnet way too soft with… the same poem that I was about to do. I was done.
But still… the Algonquin Slam ended up beign a really important one as an audience member was very moved and inspired by a poem I did (Angst). You never know in what form magic comes in.
So I did The Stranger. I wasn’t happy with the way I started it… I had too much energy. I slowed it down, I let people laugh at the buffet line (which was important as a transition between Pruf and mine. I made it through to crossing the street. Strong applause, but not the same as Pruf.
Brad got Pruf and I to stand on the stage while the judges voted. I scanned the white boards. I saw a vote for Pruf. One for me. Another one for me. Another for Pruf and…
I won. 3-2.
I honestly think that if I hadn’t won the coin flip, I woudl have had no chance. I would have gone unprepared, maybe stumbled even if just a little. Pruf would have torn the house down and won 5-0.
As it is, I’ll take the win.
(We still both get credit for a first in the rankings.)
It was my second win of the year… so now what? The CIPS qualifier is coming and I will definitely be on the list.
I think I am goign to give it a go this year.
Why the hell not?