Posted: July 19, 2010 in Poetry, Slam, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Saturday was the Lanark County Slam Finals. I was invited to host again (and I performed the poem included below)!

The Lanark scene is really shaping up with talent presented, but there was also only one poet (I think) who hadn’t appeared in their finals before. Getting new people is tough but neccesary. I hope they can do it because the scene is strong and the poets and the community deserve it. 🙂

In the end, one of the best poets they have (in my opinion) was knocked out of the running due to time penalties when she stumbled over her poem, which is a shame.

The team is still top notch, though! The Lanark Champ is Emily Kwissa, who has been on the team all three years, but this is her first as champ. (An interesting note, two years ago in Calgary, Emily broke the record for the youngest poet on the CFSW stage, beating Ottawa’s DJ Morales. This year, Lanark could have broken it again if Satinka Schilling had made the team. She came very close but lost in a ‘slam-off’ for the alt spot.)
Second was Sarah Bingham. Last year Sarah had time problems, which kept her off the team. This year she got that in order, kept under three minutes both rounds, and kept her spot!
Third was Inez Dekker. Inez has been a part of the scene from the start but this is her first time on the team. (interesting note #2 – remember I mentioned that Lanark had the youngest performer ever on the CFSW stage? I BELIEVE that with Inez they will now have the oldest as well. – Oh, I asked Inez’ permission before I said that…) I am not 100% sure because I haven’t been to every festival, though. I’m going to try to find out because that sure says a lot about Lanark County! Everybody says they are inclusive but to have the youngest AND oldest is pretty impressive.
Fourth was Ken Kicksee. He was on the team last year as well. He was the only male competing this year as Lanark continues to have the opposite problem that CapSlam was having.
The alternate is Britt Faraday for the second year in a row. As I said above, she was actually tied with Satinka but won in the slam-off.

Good show. Fun times. Too bad about Danielle because we all know she has the ability to be on the team, but it just wasn’t her night. I’ve certainly known that feeling of panic when suddenly the words vanish from your brain.

At Danielle’s request, I performed a piece that I had only done as part of the Copper Conundrum… and happens to be the next poem for this blog.

CONTEXT: June, 2010

First off, it is a true story and I am going to out the person I refer to in the poem: Gilles Labelle. Gilles is a good guy, but he seems to have a blind spot when it comes to spoken word. He has never been to a show but still thinks he knows all about it. 🙂 I have played him a few tracks by notables like Steve Sauve and John Akpata. He was unimpressed. He even said that John Akpata had no rhythm.

John Akpata.

Clearly Gilles is an idiot.


Seriously though, he IS my friend. We just differ on this point. He once told me that poets just spit out angst, angst, angst. I told him that I don’t. When I started writing this poem (it started being about the image of turning the wheel across the center line while driving), I remembered that I said I didn’t write angst, and that would certainly fall into that category. Then I started to think, “if you can’t write ‘angst’, what do you do if things really ARE bad and your head IS in a dark place?”

That led to this poem.

So, thanks Gilles!

(Oh, the Unhappy Angst-Men joke is old. Back in the early 80s my friend Shawn Kilpatrick was telling me about the Uncanny X-Men comic and he told me that it was angst-filled. I dropped the Unhappy Angst-Men line… and I never forgot it.)

So, thanks Shawn!


I told a friend that
I perform poetry.
He said that poets just
Spew angst,
Overgrown emo kids
Ranting about all the
Perceived failings in
Their lives.
I told him that he was right and
That we have banded together
To form a new super-hero team:
The Unhappy Angst-Men!
We fight crime but
We don’t feel good about it.

No angst for me, I said.
I write about art and music
And books and love
And suicide and child abuse
Because sometimes writing happy
Is a lie.
Sometimes putting on a brave
Face with your mouth pulled up
In a rictus-grin
Only serves to deepen the
Pits as shovelfulls of dirt
Are dumped on your face as you
Close your eyes and wait for
It to be over.

Is that angst?
But is the world better served
By a Tom Sawyer
Whitewash over the screaming
News headline graffitti that
Reminds us that just because
She was smiling doesn’t mean
June Cleaver was happy?
As the world tightens
A rubber tube tourniquet
Around its forearm
We remember
That there is no difference
Between track-marks
And highways
When the end of the line
Doesn’t hold salvation.

We lump the kid with the
Hollow realization of
Mediocrity in with
Those who see rebellion as
A fashion statement
And think that a $40
Haircut can make them
Seem more ‘street’ –
Putting tears in
A new pair of jeans so they
Can fit in with those
Who would trade any amount
Of ‘street’ for a new
Pair of jeans…
Or a bite to eat…
Not that they would admit it,

Because neediness equals
Vulnerability equals
Depression is some sort
Of personality fault,
But try telling that to
The kid who wonders how
Many pills it would take
Or the woman who sees the
Center line as the perfect
Spot to turn the wheel
And face the headlights
Of the on-coming truck.

If it is wrong to let the
Darkness out…
Stopping it from gnawing at
Your insides until you
Are as hollow as you feel…
Then how do you fight the
Because sometimes the
World just fucking sucks and
The opposite of depression
Isn’t joy.
It is indifference,
Because caring cuts both ways.

So give the emo kids their
Stupid haircuts and whiny music
If that’s what gets them
Through the day,
And if you are having trouble
Holding on, tell me!
I will listen.
Because detachment
Doesn’t make you cool,
Stoicism doesn’t equal strength
And suffering in solitude
Is never nobler
Than healing together.
So to my friend that thinks
All poets spew angst
I’ll wear that mantle with
Pride because what you call
Angst I call giving a shit
And I’ll defend that
Until the day I die.


Next up is, uh… nothing yet. I have cleaned out my notebook. Until I write something new…

I really want to write a poem about the police. Maybe that will be next.

  1. Ken Kicksee says:

    Rusty was an excellent MC, as always. He engaged and entertained the audience, kept the show moving along at a good pace, and didn’t omit any important information people needed to know. He has helped our scene enormously, and for that we are all grateful.

    Concerning the size and diversity of our scene, we’re open to ideas about how to help it grow. It needs to grow and evolve. That means finding new poets and new audience members. Otherwise it becomes just a members-only club instead of a creative outlet where the broader community can freely express themselves.

    • rpriske says:

      If/when I think of something, I’ll let you know.

      It isn’t that you have a problem now… because you don’t. But you WILL if you don’t get regular new additions to the scene. Eventually you will atrophy.

  2. Sarah says:

    Yes, I lurk on your blog.

  3. […] her debut with us and she ROCKED it. Two steller pieces. Third up in the 2nrd round was me. I did Angst and it went over well. I mean REALLY well. I think some o fmy own emotions came through as I have […]

  4. […] We lecture about score creep every time, but it exists EVERY TIME. I got one of the biggest ovations of the first round. People LOVED the poem. There was no question I was in my zone. (I did Angst.) […]

  5. […] the second round I did Angst and the response was even MORE favourable and powerful. Lisa Slater tweeted it. I had people […]

  6. […] as yet ‘unmotivated’. I went the same route I did in the Finals last year, blasting out Angst to get the crowd excited. It wouldn’t help my scores but it’ll pick the room up for the […]

  7. Bammarang says:

    I really dig this piece Rusty… Not sure if I’ve heard it live more than once; but I relate a lot tot he subject matter; as someone who doesn’t write a lot of “happy” content. Thanks.

  8. […] to get in the second round (but not a sure thing) and NO chance to catch Pruf, I went up and did Angst. I have always liked that piece, but its reception down at CFSW in Toronto really put in into the […]

  9. […] came Faye Estrella (Festrell). She did Angst. Even if I didn’t know it, I would be able to guess which piece Faye would call her […]

  10. […] realized I could get it memorized quickly so I decided to prep ‘Angry’ and Angst. They were both poems I enjoy performing and I wanted to have some fun just cutting […]

  11. […] those times that made me feel energized. I got a huge pop for my poems – both solo and team work. Angst went over […]

  12. […] fly past the judges), and the sign-up list was HOT and I wanted to be part of that, so I dropped Angst […]

  13. […] Slam Makes Everythin… on Angst […]

  14. […] Hey! I Won Again! |… on Angst […]

  15. […] there, at Sophie’s request, I performed a poem. I chose Angst as a reflection of why I do what I […]

  16. […] round, I drew second. Bummer again. I did Angst. It went very well. I made up ground on nearly everybody. (Though not Gavin, who was in first, […]

  17. […] I went back to Jenica for round two and she offered up Angst as a suggestion. Not quite AS strong, but plenty good enough and I […]

Leave a Reply to Featuring at OYPS | Rusty the Poet Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s