Summer Slamming!

Posted: July 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

This year at the Capital Poetry Collective, we have a different format for our Summer Slams. Instead of the usual 2-round slam, we are having 3-round slams with the 2nd round being a special 1-minute ‘Lightning Round’!

So, I thought I might not slam this summer.

I think it is a fun idea but I know from back when Greg Frankson was still holding the Bill Brown slams that I am not very good at shorter poems. That is just the way it is.

So, I have been working on my poetry – both with the new CapSlam team and in a workshop with Ikenna Onyegbula and Brandon Wint, and I said, the hell with it. I want to slam. So I went looking through my poems and found the only short piece I ever did well with at Bill Brown, Movie of My Life.

I realized I could get it memorized quickly so I decided to prep ‘Angry’ and Angst. They were both poems I enjoy performing and I wanted to have some fun just cutting loose.

But as I was memorizing, something more important came up.

On July 3rd, 1993, Ruthanne and I were married at the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary in Victoria, B.C.

Last Wednesday was our 20th Wedding Anniversary

So, what were we going to be doing on such a momentous day? Why, running a slam of course!

Last week was the National Storyteller’s Conference and it happened to be in Ottawa this year. For the third year in a row, Ruthanne was asked to run a Story Slam for the attendees at the conference. (It seems that the Canadian Storyteller’s community has discovered that Ruthanne is the go-to person for such an event.) She asked if I minded and I told her, of course not. It wasn’t the first anniversary we spent running a slam, and it won’t be the last.

Just like at Once Upon A Slam, I acted as Ruthanne’s scorekeeper and timekeeper (but not DJ… they weren’t set up for that), but given the date in question, Ruthanne also asked me to perform a poem before the slam.

So, what poem should I do? Well, The Great Adventure, of course. Not only is it a love poem for Ruthanne – not only did I write it for our 17th Anniversary, when we were also running a slam – but it is a poem that talks about storytelling, so was appropriate for the room.

But I had never memorized it… and storytellers don’t read. Ever.

I decided to give it a shot. That meant I was no longer working on my pieces for the slam, but that was okay. This was a higher priority.

Not only was I able to memorize it, but it went pretty smoothly, which was nice. Especially considering my concerns about my memory lately.

I had a bit of a stumble when I started it, but the crowd was forgiving and it went over very well. I had a number of people tell me how much they enjoyed it – including a few indicators of happy tears.

So that probably meant my Summer Slamming would have to wait until the next show… but maybe I was just run through the poems to see how far off I was.

I nailed all three of them, the first time out.

All right then. I was slamming.

The show went pretty smoothly. I had a little hiccup when a young poet seemed a little put out by the fact I could not remember her name. Considering my constant internal struggle with my memory, that kind of upset me a little.

Anyone reading this… PLEASE don’t take it personally if I can’t recall your name, poetry something you have told me, or whatever. It isn’t because I don’t care.

So, I was playing my ‘DJ RPM’ role as V was hosting. There was an interesting mix signing up with some solid season finalists like PrufRock, Sir Realist, Ali Bumaye, DMP, ArRay-of-WoRds, D-Zaster and some exciting newer names like Abby Kassirer, Joesph Sic, and Taylor and some I had never heard at all in Golbon and Chris Fash.

In the first round I did ‘Angry’ and it went over like it had in the semis. It is a fun poem to do and I think that comes across in my performance. People were laughing. A lot.

The judges liked it. I tied with DMP in second place, behind Pruf by .3 and a mere .1 ahead of Nathanael (Sir Realist).

When we came back from the break for the 1-minute round, while I was happy about the first poem, I knew that my next piece was not as strong. Short poems are not my forte.

I did ‘Movie of My Life’. It is also fun, but is lacking that little something extra.

I finished 4th in that round. I still made the 3rd round, which was my primary goal.

In the final round I did ‘Angst’.


I have had some success with this piece in the past… at CFSW 2011, R.C. Weslowski told me it was his favourite poem of the festival… but never like this.

On a night where 28.8 was the highest mark until the 3rd round, I got a 29.7. A couple people got single 10s, but I got 2 of them.

I was blown away and humbled by the response to the piece.

I didn’t win, because the 2nd round piece pulled me down too much but upon further investigation, because I finished 4th in the 1-minute round (and not any worse), if we had been doing the non-cumulative scoring like we did for the CIPS qualifier, I WOULD have won. That is nice to know.

PrufRock won. Nathanael was behind him by .3 and I was behind Nate by .1

Good company.

So what does this tell me?

Good things come to people who are relaxed and having fun.

And I need to write a better 1-minute poem…

  1. Mom says:

    Sounds like you had a great time & that is what your poetry should be for you. Thanks for sharing…Love Mom.

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