Angry… not the poem

Posted: May 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

This is Rusty.

Not Rusty the Slam Master… blah blah blah.

Last night’s show was great… mostly. I had a lot of fun hosting… mostly. It was all positive… mostly.

Except when it wasn’t.

Sometimes we have to accept that my personal opinions and the right way to run a slam do not always match. That happened last night.

First off, let me tell you about something that bugs me. I am going to call out Gavin by name here because the poem actually ends with a very good message… but it starts with something that I don’t like.

The Friend Zone.

Again, Gavin’s poem ends with some really positive stuff. It is the term that really bugs me. I read somewhere that the term ‘Friend Zone’ implies that you are expecting that if you are nice enough to a woman, then she is obligated to have sex with you. If she doesn’t then she has committed the horrible act of ‘putting you in the Friend Zone’.

See the problem here?

I am not going to go any further with that, and Gavin is awesome and I had heard the poem before and knew it ended on a high note. I just don’t like the term.

But if THAT was the only thing that bothered me, I wouldn’t even have mentioned it.

Instead, I am going to talk about a different poet. I am not going to name names here because I like him and I am not trying to start a fight.

Sometimes even people I like can make me fuming mad.

In a poem last night, a poet referred to people I care for… people I love… people I respect… people I will fight for… as murderers.

I realize that abortion is a touchy subject for some people, but we are not talking about saying he is against it, or he would never do it or whatever. He said that they are murderers.

Do you know how hard it was for me to walk back onto the stage, continue with the slam and stay completely neutral just then?

Very hard… and I can only imagine that it would be even harder for others.

Here is the thing… I was talking to someone afterwards and he asked if I was surprised that this poet would have that opinion. Nope.

And, in the context of slam, does he have a right to say it. Yep.

And I have the right to be really bloody angry about it.

Under ANY circumstance this would make me really angry. For it to happen right when we are making some real headway into female representation on stage just makes it worse. This is a straight up attack on women’s rights.

Look, I got real heat by doing a poem where I said that I don’t believe in god. In that poem I never said that other people were wrong to believe, just that I don’t. Here we have someone who is not just saying that people are wrong, he is calling them murderers.

Fuck that.


We’ll get past it. He is a talented poet and his views are his views. He has every right to them.

And I have very right to be freaking angry about him calling people I care about murderers on stage.

The end.

  1. jessicaruano says:

    Well, this has happened before. We all know it has happened before. Should I name names, or shall I move on?

    Isn’t it funny how we have to respect intangible views (such as the existence of God), and not always very tangible ones (like the safety of women).

    I would argue that in the context of slam, this could be disallowed, in the same way that you’re not allowed to verbally attack a fellow poet/audience member onstage. With a poem like this, you’re inevitably harshly attacking at least one person in your audience, and making them feel unsafe. I would put it into the same category as a comic saying ‘wouldn’t it be funny if that woman got gang-raped right now.’

    And if someone’s going to call ‘freedom of speech’ on me, then I think audience members should at least be allowed the option of throwing tomatoes.

    • rpriske says:

      Since I didn’t name names, I figure I should point out to Jessica that this is not connected to the ‘names’ from the past.

      This does not in any way change your point, I jsut wante dto make sure I wasn’t telling you soemthing I didn’t mean to be telling you, if you get my drift.

  2. jessicaruano says:

    Yes, I understand. I checked the list of people to see if it was the person I was expecting, and it wasn’t.

    Out of curiosity, did this person get low scores for that poem?

    • rpriske says:

      Hmmm… not low per se, but not high either (in the context of that slam). The real question is whether he got lower scores than he would have if not for that particular passage in his poem. I ‘think’ he did. The only people who can answer that are the judges, but I was on stage and I saw the looks on the faces in the audience. Of the ones I saw who seemed to be quite unhappy at that point included a couple of people who were judging.

      That is just my read of the situation, though. That could be completely wrong.

  3. Missaralee says:

    Thank you for speaking to this, Rusty. This is the second time I’d heard that particular piece and both times it felt like a slap across the face. It was a completely unnecessary comment in the context of the piece, so why cause the pain at all? At this rate, I’m never going to run out of “femme rage” poems…

  4. syrens says:

    Do you know how hard it was for me to walk back onto the stage, continue with the slam and stay completely neutral just then?

    I know exactly how hard that was. I’ve had to do it at VoV more than once, and it sucks.

    As for your post, all I can say is: Nice juxtaposition. “The Friend Zone” and the whole “debate” around reproductive rights both come out of the same belief that women shouldn’t have dominion over our own bodies.
    Thanks for calling it out.

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