Poetry and Poetry: Backward and Forward

Posted: August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

It feels like it is time to work.

Poetry work.

Art work.

To steal (and change radically) a line from The Commitments: “Hard work. But if you wouldn’t do it for art, what would you do it for?”

And if you know me, and know the original line, you know why it is appropriate.

Let’s look back a few days. Ruthanne left for the big storyteller’s conference in Montreal on Wednesday. I spent Wed evening, all day Thursday and Friday evening working on the house. Paint, paint, paint, paint and lugging a pallet load of laminate flooring into the house.

And with all that, I still was feeling like nothing was being accomplished.

Then came Saturday. With Capital Slam that night, I had a bunch of things to do… things that were normally no big deal, but with Ruthanne (KILLING IT!) in Montreal, I had no car. I took the bus to the bank and it was ROASTING out. Going to the slam with all the gear was going to wipe me out!

Earlier I had put a call out for volunteers for the show – reliable, wonderful people like Robin LeWilliam-North and the Kicksees, Ken and Liz, answered the call. I decided to put pride in the box and put another call out, asking if there was anyone who could get me to the show with the gear.

The call was answered by someone I didn’t even know! (I wasn’t expecting THAT!) Ranya Fractal not only picked me up and drove me downtown, but she had other plans so wasn’t even GOING to the show! She just did it because… well, because she is nice, basically.

Then came the show. I was sub-DJ. It was fun but let’s just say nobody was telling me that I should take over permanently for DJ PrufRock. 🙂

Small slam, but the list included one newcomer to the area, but a slam vet, Daniel Mark Patterson, who is a welcome addition to our scene, and Kayla Fraser who says she is going to move to Ottawa soon and will be ANOTHER welcome addition to our scene!
I slammed, of course, doing The Stranger and Stroll On, finishing second, between Kayla (who won) and DMP. Good company.
After the show, the Kicksees offered me a ride home, which was very appreciated.

Then I updated my spreadsheet.
I have told a few people about my spreadsheet. I use it to track the results of every poem I slam at Capital Slam. I keep track of the average score and average differential (how it did compared to the average score of the round) for each poem. I did this because I am a numbers geek, knowing full well that the sample size is too small to give me meaningful results and that leaving off context skews results (for example, the average results in the second round at the CapSlam Finals will be substantially different than the first round at a summer show).
But I enjoy it, so I do it. (Top poem right now is Heaven, but after only one performance, followed by Stroll on and then a tie between The Stranger and Blue, Black or Red. Why Art? had always been at the top, but my disappointing showing at the semi-finals this year dropped it down the list.)
Then, on a whim, I ran a sum for the total number of performances I have done in competition at Capital Slam.
Then I thought about the scene and my time in it and how long it was running before I came along (not long, relatively) and realized that in all likelihood, I have slammed more poems at CapSlam than anyone else. Ever.

And I am two poems shy of number 100.

Since then I have been reflecting on my time in slam and everything I have gotten out of it… which has been a lot. A LOT.
I also ruminated on what I get out of slam now.
Things change. I told the guys on the team in Toronto that it was likely my last team. What the crowd wanted was changing and I either had to change what I was doing or accept that my time ‘near’ (but never ‘at’) the top of the scene was going to end.
I was okay with that.

So, now what?
I have a couple of other projects that I really want to work on. I have a project with Kevin Matthews that I hope we follow through with (it was originally a Copper Conundrum project, but it is too good an idea to let go fallow). I have also started working on a new book… at least conceptually so far. It will be very different than Rusty Priske: Trapeze Artist, in that it won’t be a collection of poems. It is poetry written especially for the project. I guess it is my ‘page poetry’ project.

But first, there is the CapSlam season opener on September 1st. I am going to slam. If I get to the second round, that will put me at 100. I am writing something special for it. Consider it an announcement about my future as a poet, artist, slammer, performer.

100 is a good number.

  1. deekayelgee says:

    I wish I could be there for this seminal moment. So much of my Capital Slam experience was dictated by our friendship. It seems like 2012 is a year for change and growth. I can’t wait to see what you do. Miss you so much!

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