CapSlam Semis Recap… Rusty version

Posted: May 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

So… it happened. I am an emotional mess as it was such a wonderful night and a gut punch at the same time.

I am not going to go over it all. Read my recap at the CapSlam blog first.

So I didn’t make the finals for the first time.

I knew coming in that my best might not do it. I was right.

Well, was it my best? If not, it was close to it… not best ever, but you can’t always pull out the perfect poem at the perfect time. It was solid, clean. It was me.

At least I can’t.

Here was my strategy… none, at first. I knew that I wanted to do my new piece, Drawing Lines. It was my ‘statement’ for the show. I also have a new poem called Joe Dimaggio, but I was going to save that for the finals… as I wasn’t up to memorizing two brand new pieces just now. Back in the fall I did a new poem called Stroll On, that was received very strongly. In fact, my infamous spreadsheet said it was my #2 poem, after only Why Art? ever. So I put it away to save it for the send of season.

So I was going to do Drawing Lines and Stroll On.

I won a CapSlam recently. I don’t do that very often. At that slam I pulled Why Art? back out for the first time in ages, and it kicked ass. I remembered that it was my best slammed poem overall… ever.

So then I decided that I would make sure I had it in my back pocket. If, after the first round, I was hovering around the #8 spot, I would sub out Stroll On for Why Art? to make sure I got into the finals.

Then I started thinking about the draw. Last year drawing first at the finals ended me. I decided that if I drew 1st or 2nd I would sub in Why Art? in the first round and then move Drawing Lines to the second.

Basically, I over-thought the whole thing which was the EXACT thing I said I wouldn’t do.

Then the first round sac came and O’G did his poem inspired by the EXACT same series of events that Drawing Lines is inspired by. And the judges didn’t reward him at all.

Suddenly my statement poem seemed like a really bad idea.

I drew fourth and did Why Art?

It is my one regret of the night. Do I think I would have made it to the finals if I hadn’t second guessed myself? Not at all. It wasn’t my night. I only regret it because that move meant instead of doing a fairly new piece that people hadn’t heard, I did something ‘safe’.

I nailed the poem, though. I couldn’t be happier with my performance. The crowd seemed to really dig it and I felt it right through… until the judges started.

7.5. Now the judges were low so far but that was the lowest score of the night – not counting sacs – 7.7 – I just shook my head. There was nothing I could do. 8.2 – that was it. it was over. I got a couple of nines after that, but I had stopped listening.
I had the lowest score so far and I could be pretty assured that it would be the lowest score of the night. (It was). I brought out my ‘best’ poem (slam speaking) and it crashed and burned (with the judges only).

I was out of the finals and we still had another round to go.

As a side note, Why Art? has ALWAYS been at the top of my spreadsheet that analyzes my slam results. Not anymore. It fell like a stone. Ironically, the new #1 is Stroll On… the poem I DIDN’T do because I chose to do Why Art?

On the break I didn’t know what to do with myself. I heard the usual chimes of ‘you were robbed’ etc. but John Akpata told me straight. “To many people played it safe in the first round”. He was right.

I talked to Ruthanne about what I should do in the second and she gave me the right advice. ‘Do the poem you will be disappointed to not share’. I had been thinking about doing Stroll On because it is an ‘easier’ poem for me to do and if I wasn’t in it anyway… but she was right. I wrote Drawing Lines for this. Not doing it because I was unhappy about my first round score would be a betrayal of my poetry which is more important than any slam.

I did it.

Flawlessly. Emotionally.

The crowd loved it. I saw at least one person standing when I was done, but my head was down so I didn’t see too much. It isn’t the MOST emotional piece I have done (not by a long shot) but it is pretty raw and something that could rub certain people the wrong way. (But if it does then chances are I WAS talking about them, whether I knew it or not.)

The scores were solid. Not enough to make up the gap. (I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been ALMOST mathematically eliminated by the time I went up second to last in the slam. If I got a 30, I would have been tied for 8th as long as Hyf had scored less than 28.0. While the latter was possible, if not quite unlikely – I mean, he could have had a time penalty or something – getting a 30 at this point was… well, a stretch. 🙂 )

In the end I am happy with my performances. Last year I MADE it to the finals while feeling BAD about my performances. I like this feeling better.

I won’t lie and say everything is peaches and cream, though. It hurts. I tie WAY too much into slam. I just love it so much and it has given me a validation that I didn’t know possible. The problem, of course, with feeling so validated by something is what happens when you don’t do so well.

It really hit home when I was talking to Brad. He could understand my disappointment as he also did not do as well as he would like this year. I told him that it was a little different because he has had such success with his work, touring and going places with his art.

Capital Slam is all I have.

Look, I know that my self confidence is a fucking mess. It always has been. I have a hard even BELIEVING people when they tell me that something I did was good. But still…

I don’t have this driving desire to be the best. I just want to feel like I have something to contribute. I know I do, but the line between my mind and my heart is very fragile some days.

Last night, after we got home I turned to Ruthanne and said, ‘well, now what do I do?’ I pour so much of my being into this and it feels like there is a void now. I have big ideas about things like a CD project which always gets turned down for funding (you think that doesn’t feel like a big judgment every time?). Ruthanne had some good ideas but I don’t think I am ready to make any decisions right now. (One of those suggestions was Banff… who would have thought that in the space of a little over a year or so Sherri-D and I could go from being at each other’s throats – symbolically – to Banff being an option? Thank you Sherri-D for making that possible).

On thing that is NOT the answer is burying myself in show organizing. I love putting slams together and that is not going to go away, but one thing I do NOT want is for that to become my identity. I know that in some ways that is closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out but I do not want to forget that I am a poet first… maybe I need to do what Greg did and renew myself by changing cities. (Note: not going to happen… at least as long as the gov doesn’t fire me. And I am crossing my fingers etc. about that in this age of fucking Stephen Harper’s idea of strengthening the economy by increasing unemployment. Side note: if anyone I know voted for Harper and the Cons, please don’t tell me. If you do I my call you a fucking asshole to your face and never speak to you again. Maybe.)

Enough rambling. This sucks, but life goes on…

  1. ikennasopensecret says:

    Disappointment is such a necessity in life. I read this and truly understand some of the feelings attached to what you have written. The only thing about disappointment that I really hate is the time it takes for me to get the opportunity to do it all over again and get it right. All this is is disappointment, and that is truly nothing. I know you are a phenomenal poet, and an even greater spirit. And, at least to me, you contribute a LOT, as an artist, and as a friend. There are many of us in the community who feel that way about you too. Besides, I think I have always enjoyed the comeback story better than one of continued success anyway. I look forward to yours. And it will happen!

  2. array0fwords says:

    Rusty, I’m proud of you for staying true to yourself & to the art form and sharing “Drawing Lines!” I feel I can relate to you about the 2nd guessing & self doubts, but I’m content to have shared the poems that I wanted to share to “Raise It” -the consciousness & awareness; using this art form as a vehicle to do so for the larger audiences. Between you & me brother, (the 3 particular inconsistent judges aside) your performances were spot on and the crowds, like myself were feeling and moved by em!

    > ikennasopensecret says: “And, at least to me, you contribute a LOT, as an artist, and as a
    > friend. There are many of us in the community who feel that way about you too”

    Rusty: I am one of those in the community that totally agree with Ikenna’s ^statement^ above!

  3. Robin Le William-North says:

    I knew I would regret missing the semi-finals (even with decently good excuse: practicing for Ottawa Story Tellers…) The competition seems to have been intense, wild, full of great words and great moments…

    And I’m sad I missed your pieces Rusty…
    I’m sad I could not speak to you last night.

    I’m looking forward to hearing your new pieces. I’m looking forward to hearing about your new projects, about your new steps. You’ll have beautiful things to share.

  4. DeeGee says:

    I think Ikenna is right. You are ripe for a comeback. Plus I think we should get some Copper conundrum work going. That’s pure pleasure. Having been where you are at…well I can feel you. Still I thank goodness fo Cap Slam in that I made such amazing friends. You and Ruthanne men do much to me. I have always believed in your poetry…you are a superstar out in LC.

  5. Panos says:

    While I have only been a spectator to the Capital Slam for a short time, I can’t begin to understand what it is to be a poet or the struggles that the art form brings. I can however tell you how it looks to an outsider looking in.

    In reading “I don’t have this driving desire to be the best. I just want to feel like I have something to contribute. ” my heart goes out to you because while the scores may not have shown it, you DO contribute. I’ve been following your posts for a couple months now and your post “SUPRISE!!!” comes to mind. If you ever feel like you`re not contributing, just look at the poets (past and present) that you have inspired with your poetry and your commitment to the art form. Heck, reading your posts makes me realize that being a poet is a struggle and that overcoming insecurities is what it is to be a true artist.

    So, without ever having truly met you, you have inspired another future slam poet so thank you.

  6. […] decided I was going to rememorize Drawing Lines and Blue, Black or […]

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