New CapSlam Season… and a Win!

Posted: September 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

I can count the number of slams I have won at the Merc on one hand… or maybe not any more. I have lost count… six? Losing count is a good thing. I was keeping track but there were so few that it was easy to do so.

The first one, of course, was very memorable. Not completely for the best reasons, but memorable nonetheless.

September, 2007. The first slam of the season. I was a member of the 2007 team but I had never won a slam. That show featured the debut of a poet who would become very important to our scene – Poetic Speed, now better known as Komi Olaf (and the painter of that legends of slam picture on the Merc wall).

In the first round, I performed Why Art? And got my first ever perfect 30. In the second round I performed Halifax for the first time and got… 29.7, I think. Three TENS instead of the four from the first round. I won. Komi was second.

The thing is… Komi was amazing, and there were some grumblings that he should have won (not by HIM, I should quickly point out – but by our feature for the show). It fact, there were accusations of corruption.
And THEN, I got home to find out someone was really angry about my Halifax poem.

I wasn’t trying to rehash old hurts, but I just wanted to show how I could never forget that first win. It was a high that was tarnished by unfair people.

I have won a few times since then. I have also won a handful of slams out in Lanark County, but that is it. Nowhere else. (I was on the 2009 CFSW Championship team, but I was the alt. I got to hoist the trophy but I didn’t drop any poems.)

Let’s quit with the history lesson and get back up to speed.
This summer Brad and I decided to introduce a different format for the CPC Summer Slams. We went for a 3-1-3 format – three rounds instead of two, including a one-minute ‘lightning round’.

One minute poems are NOT my forte. Back when Greg was running the Bill Brown 1-2-3 slam, I rarely got past the first round as I just couldn’t come with a solid one-minute poem. I went three rounds in on his first head-to-head anniversary show with Movie of My Life. That was the only one minute poem I ever had even a bit of success with.

So, Summer Slam time and I rememorized Movie of My Life. I did well. Very well in fact. I lost to PrufRock but I actually outscored the field in the first and third rounds. It was the one-minute poem that pulled me down.

I went back to my book. I had been trying to memorize a new piece that just wasn’t working for me – Merchant of Salt. I rewrote it as a one minute piece and slammed again.

I didn’t win again. Losing to… Pruf again? Or maybe that was the slam that Candice Bruchhaeuser won this summer. Not sure. This time my one minute poem did great, but I stumbled, just a bit, on one of my three-minuters to slip.

The summer was wrapping up. PrufRock was the only person to win twice over the summer and I decided my goal for the last Summer Slam was to give it my all and try to beat Pruf. This included no negative feelings. Pruf is my friend… but for this slam, he was also my benchmark.
So… he didn’t show up. He had a gig with Missing Linx.

I slammed, of course, and all three rounds went like clockwork. There was legitimate competition (Abby Kassirer was second), but I won end-to-end.

That was nice… especially the hundred bucks… but it felt like I cheated. I came loaded for bear when other people were trying new material and enjoying the process.

The new CapSlam season started this weekend.
So, time to do some new stuff, right?

About that…

I actually have LOTS of unperformed work that I want to show, but at the same time all this is going on, I am working with the CapSlam team getting ready for CFSW in November. I have team pieces to work on. Also, I pretty much decided to enter the Underground Slam for the first time. I need to be polished and ready.

Basically, there is no way I am going to use my limited brain capacity memorizing new poems right now. Those neurons are for team pieces and ‘undie’ pieces.

But I also wanted performance practice, so slam I did!
In the first round I did The One for My Dad. It is the first time I have performed it since the CapSlam Finals. I told Ikenna that I hoped that I could get it to where I was happy to perform it. I mean, it will never be a happy poem, but it is a good piece and it is a nice, honest tribute to my father.

It went well despite a minor slip (the type that probably only I noticed). I actually saw someone wiping a tear away as I performed it. When I reached the Alzheimer’s line there was an audible groan from someone. If I can move people like that with the poem, that makes me happy as a poet and performer, as well as feeling I am doing honour to his memory. I am on my way.

AND I got the highest mark of the first round.

In the second round I decided to do The Stranger. The last time I performed it, it was probably my best performance of the piece. I was hoping to match it, but I didn’t quite get there. I score very well, though. Not the highest of the round (that went to Sarah Ruszala), but enough to secure me the win.
Second place – PrufRock. This time I wasn’t using him as a benchmark but anytime I can finish ahead of someone as talented as he is, that must have been a pretty good night.

It was.

  1. Mom says:

    Love you Russ. Congrats, it is a wonderful poem.

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