Posted: December 6, 2011 in Uncategorized
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This Saturday at Capital Slam was interesting. Our numbers dropped off a LOT. We had about half of what we had at the previous show. I heard lots of little reasons which may have added up to a big reason.

Regardless, I know the next show will have a lighter than normal crowd because so many of our crowd are students and we will be right in the middle of exams and going home for Christmas etc.

It will be awesome, though. I saw the Youth team at CFSW and they were off the hook! They would have looked right at home on the main finals stage, not ‘just’ the youth one.

I had decided to slam this time. I wanted to redo ‘Darwin’s Theory of Revolution’ (soon to be posted), which I did at the semi-finals last year… poorly. I was pretty sure the poor results were due to my lousy performance rather than the poem so I worked it up again. I drew late, which is always nice, and the poem went off beautifully! The rapid, machinegun delivery went smoothly and I had the crowd back on their heels! When I finished I got a GREAT crowd reaction… especially from the other poets. I scored okay… three good scores and two less good scores will often knock you out of the second round as one of those ‘less good’ scores has to count.

In fact (though it was misreported at the event due to someone else’s missed time penalty), I was tied in third with Loh El, behind Ronsense and V.

Then comes the bad stuff. I don’t want to dwell, but there is NOTHING I dislike more than someone hijacking a stage. We had TWO different incidents – one on stage and one behind the scenes. We had one person who asked if she could get on stage as a second sac. I am not going to get into the why but I said yes. (Don’t think I will normally do that. A: We don’t normally have time and B: the show has a certain flow. I don’t like to disrupt that.)

After Tanya Davis (EXCELLENT feature! Go see her on Thursday at the Elmdale Tavern!), we let this person go up and sac.

She was up there for 10 minutes and was still planning to do her poem again, (don’t ask me… that’s what she said…) but Ruthanne went up and gave her the time signal and she got off the stage. She apologized afterwards but how do you ACCIDENTALLY go 10 minutes? She has been around slams… she should know how this stuff works.

Oh well.

That would have been okay except I was ALSO getting grief from some guy who was making a scene at the back of the room. He showed up DURING the feature and said he wanted to sign up. Ruthanne told him that it was too late. She gave him the spiel about coming at 6:30 etc. and that we can’t add people…

He started to raise a stink. “My poem is short. Why won’t you let me on the stage. You claim to be a poetry show… why can’t I do my poem…”

Between Ruthanne and I we must have told him no ten times (or more). He was NOT being quiet and he was a big distraction from the feature. Finally I told him to hang around and we would see what we could do.
Ruthanne said I shouldn’t have done that, but my first concern is the show and I needed to get him to shut up and let people watch the show.

When I had the chance I went and spoke to Sean O’G, who was hosting, and told him that under no circumstances should we let this guy on the mic. He was down.

Then came the 10 minute poem. I was really annoyed at this point… and stressed… and tense.

So, of course, I was drawn first in the second round, with no opportunity to calm down. I did Stroll On and it went well, despite the distractions. I scored decently. In the end I tied with Hyfidelik for second, so that was a pretty good night (behind Ronsense who has now slammed twice this year at CapSlam and won them both. He has become a force!)

When the show was over, we did announcements and thank yous and O’G announced the results etc. and then he ended the show. As soon as he did so that guy was ON STAGE. Sean told him that the show was over and he tried to argue it. Sean held firm and by then people were leaving so he dropped it. He never came and spoke to me.

Look, call me an asshole if you want (it wouldn’t be the first time) but the show is more important than any single poet (myself included). Do NOT make the show about you, no matter WHO you are (and I have no idea who this guy was). That happened twice in the show. There are LOTS of open mics around for you to strut your stuff. If you want to slam, come slam, but you have the same sign-up rules as everybody else. (Ask people like Ikenna and Chris Tse who have wanted to do stuff and I haven’t bent the rules for them.) If the rules are not consistant, then you have a right to complain. Otherwise…

Anyway… as I said, maybe I am wrong and it is time for a revolution…

  1. Tammy MacKenzie says:

    Ouch, lots of fun and games that night, eh?
    Having organized and run slams and non-slam events, I think you did what you needed to do and did the right thing, in respects to the guy who wanted on stage late. The second sac… well, like you said, you had your reasons for saying yes, so not for me to question another slam master’s running of things that way. 😉
    And from the perspective of being on stage at a slam, well, damn right you did the right thing!
    You tried to kill the distraction taking the audience’s attention from the performers, and held firm on not letting the guy onstage, which would have been an insult to those who A- showed up on time, and B- earned their spot on stage in the second round. Balance.
    Personally I would have been inclined to have a couple volunteers help the guy back outside…

  2. WL says:

    The culture of the single slam event I’ve ever attended is apparently the complete opposite of CapSlam’s. As well, if someone there says that several people have cancelled so there’s no big deal, if the mind relaxes and doesn’t think it is one — especially being a sacrifice (which, again, is apparently treated with a different attitude than it is at CapSlam), I tried to offer a combination of pieces together. I legitimately have never had a strong sense of time, but just to state it: the slam culture I’ve been demonstrated up to this point places more value on the piece itself than time, so no pressure is usually hand-in-hand with that. Frequently that can be 5 or 10 minutes, though as I’ve already said, I didn’t realise it was that length — I actually didn’t. I even apologised when somebody let me know that that was not typical, and I was shocked that my apology was refused, I was treated as having intentionally been offensive, neither organiser would even speak to me after or look at me, and I am even being called out online to be labelled a hijacker and pretty much a liar.

    From your perspective, I came to your show and disrespected everyone for the purposes of “grand-standing”. From my perspective, you gave me the impression that it was a fairly laid-back scenario, (exactly what I’m used to seeing), but I had no guess that you ran things the exact opposite way that it is done at the event I’ve singularly attended for 3 years of a slam, and 4.5 as a straight-forward poetry event. I’ve never been treated that way in my entire life by anyone, and it was the second time I’d myself ever done slam. I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin for two days, and like people were laughing at me now. I didn’t feel that way until the moment I spoke to an organiser to discuss being given the time-signal. I was the one to make the approach because that was the moment that I realised how long it had been, and that at this event they don’t just wait for you to finish.

    I’ve asked some of my peers from other cities, and they have stated that what you saw from me is not abnormal at several different slam events.

    Can we remember for a moment that it’s amazing for a person to get on stage in the first place and share creative ability with words? It is not at all an easy thing for most people, and it certainly isn’t for me. That was very frightening to do in a different city, but I tried it anyway. At your event, I accidentally made an enemy of myself; where I am returning to, it would have brought the house down.

    Don’t worry about seeing me again. I would never want to return to your event given the level of human treatment, kindness, or reasonability. I am not the only one who apparently has assumptions of how slam events work, and I am not the only one who has caused offense or a poor impression.

    I would like for us to let this go after this point, now that we’ve equally shared our view. To continue doesn’t serve any of us well.


    • rpriske says:

      The unfortunate thing is that I logged on here this morning to make an adjustment to this entry, to ease off on the idea that you weren’t sorry. I don’t think that. I do believe you were sorry. (I won’t change it now because it would undercut your message… and that wouldn’t be fair to you.)

      I am NOT going to argue whether it is okay to use that much time on stage in a slam. It isn’t. Saying it isn’t abnormal… well, it is at our shows. The rare time it has happened, I have let people know what I think.

      The real unfortunate thing here is that it happened on an evening when I was ALSO being hassled by someone else. That may have made me more prickly than usual. I accept that and I apologize for that.

      As far as you never coming back… well, that is up to you (of course). There is no lasting impact here (I consider it an incident that has passed and I prefer to look forward), and if you were to come and sign up at our show you would be treated like everyone else. No hard feelings. If you don’t feel like you want to do that… well, as I said, that is up to you.

      Regardless, I can take criticism and I think there is plenty of blame to go around. I know you are headingaway and I hope that in the time between now and when you come back we can put this behind us and move on.

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