Four Days

Posted: November 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

I have had one heck of a ‘last four days’. To the point now where I am absolutely beat and have a lot of work to get done, both at my ‘day job’ and many other things.

But a lot of the past four days has been amazing so let me go over it…


The Ottawa Storytellers Festival was going on and the lovely Ruthanne is one of the organizers. In 2010 the Copper Conundrum (myself, Danielle Gregoire, Kevin Matthews) performed there and we had a really good time, so when Ruthanne told me that there was a feature I would probably enjoy, I decided to check it out!

That feature was Stephen Tobolowsky. He is a character actor that gets a LOT of work. The most recent things that jump to MY mind that he was in are Heroes and Deadwood, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. I just checked IMDB and he has 217 credits as an actor. I counted a dozen movies that I have seen (at least) including stand-outs Memento and Groundhog Day.

Well, it seems that he has a podcast where he tells stories about being in Hollywood and such. Caitlyn Paxson (the managing artistic director of Ottawa Storytellers) is a fan so she invited to come and tell some stories.

He did. He was great.

The stories he told were actually NOT about his Hollywood time but rather his family, in honour of that day being his mother’s birthday. It was riveting stuff but what REALLY won me over were his ideas about art and creativity and how they are the driving force of life.

Anyone who has read much of my poetry or listened to me perform or even just talk knows how in-tune this is with my own views on life.

If not to create, why exist?

Anyway, we ended up buying his book and I really look forward to reading it. (Right now I am reading a book of poetry by Dwayne Morgan… but all things in time.)


Friday I volunteered at the festival. Basically I sat out in the lobby during the show in case anyone came in late. That may not sound like anything exciting… and it isn’t. I DID read a nice article on The Smiths in Mojo magazine. I had no idea that the band only existed for less than five years. Their impact seems so much bigger than that.

I also had a chance to talk with Kate Hunt about ideas for the Capital Poetry Collective website and another slam related tech project that is in development.


Saturday was Capital Slam and boy, was it a crazy night! The crowd was solid, though not the sell-out room we had the previous two shows. I had two brand new poems to debut with the clear understanding that it was likely that I would only get to do one.

This isn’t defeatist talk. It is my changing attitudes about slam. I have been moderately successful in slam. I have been on 4 CapSlam teams, including one that won the national title… but I rarely win slams (2 clear wins and 1 3-way tie at CapSlam. A couple of wins at LiPS). I am usually ‘in the picture’ but nobody is going to confuse me for OpenSecret or Ian Keteku, you know?

In fact, I was taking it kind of hard. My scores were slipping and… blah blah blah. I’ve talked about it enough on this blog.

So I decided to stop trying.

That does NOT mean stop slamming. I love slamming too much. I am just going to stop worrying about what poem I should do when and what it takes to score well etc. When I do well, it is usally when I bring a lot of emotion and intensity to the stage… but that isn’t how I always want to write. The poem I did about Insomnia (which was made immeasurably better by Jessica Ruano’s performance and video… which deserves more hits. share it around!), is probably one of my best, but it did not do well in slam.

So, if I love to slam but I’m not worried about my scores (as much… I figure if I say it enough it might actually become true), then what would I write?

I’ll talk about the actual poems in their own posts, but the poems I brought were the first 2 pieces from my Duncameron project. The pieces are called Duncameron 1: Beverage Lids and Duncameron 2: Star Trek Rap.

So I went to the slam knowing I was going to do Beverage Lids, thinking it was apretty solid poem but also thinking that it would not score well… and I was okay with that.

So, of course, it went over really well. Despite drawing second, I still tied for the second highest score of the first round. People really liked it. The audience appreciated it and a lot of poets commented on it.

So, then came the second round where I did the Star Trek Rap piece which is pretty much comedy (though with a ‘little’ message in it, but not much). This piece was risky because if the crowd didn’t dig it, I would know right away and the next couple of minutes would have been very painful.

They dug it. It was fun. The funny thing is that by doing that piece, I pretty much handed the win to Bruce Narbaitz. He fed on my poem and did one of his pieces with some Lord of the Rings refs and went over the top. I also got the second highest score in that round and ended up second over all.

So, I stopped trying to score well and got close to my highest marks in a while. Okay.

Is there a message here?


Last week C.R.Avery contacted me, asking a favour. He was bringing his music and burlesque show to Burnstown (about an hour outside of Ottawa), and he was having trouble figuring out how to get his opening act there. She was coming in from Montreal and he asked if it was possible for me to pick her up from the bus station and drive her out to the gig.

Well, I am a sucker for a damsel in distress… or, to be more honest, I am a sucker for a friend asking for a favour. It also gave me an excuse to go out and see C.R.’s show again (after seeing it in Saskatoon last month).

So I picked up Sarah Jane Scouten (and Taylor Leedahl who decided to come down and see the show). What delightful company! Both of them!

The venue in Burnstown – the Neat Cafe – is a great little venue! They have hosted some big name acts!

Sarah was wonderful! She has this kind of bluegrassy country thing going. I am not usually a country fan, but this is the real deal – a singer/songwriter and her guitar – not the stuff that passes a country music television or whatever. I quite enjoyed it.

Then C.R. was C.R. He has an amazing command of the stage and knows how to entertain. He had two burlesque performers with him – the same two from Saskatoon – and they are both very talented and friendly.

It was just a fun night. In the end, Sarah came back to Ottawa with me to crash on the way back to Montreal. Ruthanne took her to the bus this morning and I feel like I may have made a new friend. That sounds kind of silly, but nonetheless…

Yeah, a good four days.

  1. Robin Le William-North says:

    I feel sorry for missing your poems on Saturday, Rusty.
    I would love to see you again in your “let’s slam for the joy of slamming” mode!

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