Step By Step

Posted: April 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

So, anyone who knows me very well knows that I am not always the most confident person in the world. Because of this, my goals are often somewhat… limited in scope.

So what is different this year?

I have had an amazing year at Capital Slam. I think I won four slams this year. I won as many as PrufRock, though he edged me on score, so he got the #1 spot in the seasonal rankings while I was second.

As I was getting closer to the semi-finals, I dropped Ikenna a line, like last year, and asked him to help me pick my poems for semis and finals. I told him at that time that I wasn’t feeling super-great about my chances this year.

He was a little incredulous. He pointed out that I was being received very, very well this year.

He was right.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this might be my best season ever. It is certainly my best scoring season ever.

Maybe this is the year that I took a serious run at the title.

Last year was the closest I have ever gotten, but my brain was far from that, as I was dealing with the passing of my father between semis and finals.


Ikenna looked over my potential poems. He really loved one… which was also the one I really loved, so we were in agreement there. There was another that he liked that I wasn’t sold on.

After that was done, I came up with the idea for another poem and sent it to him… which he immediately said should be my first round semis piece.

Then the last CapSlam happened when I got into it a bit with the content of another poet’s work and a separate, but related, argument at the restaurant after. I had performed a poem in response to that poet and I really wanted to do it again. (It was in my pocket because I was already considering it for semi-finals.) Fully memorized.

The first semi-final was last night. Eight poets. I needed to finish in the top 4 to go to finals but my real goal was top 1. I wanted the momentum. I wanted the confidence boost it would give me.

This year is quite different from previous years. There are only a few poets competing who have team experience… and they were all in my semi-final. Great poets all around, but that experience means something.

I recently finished a study showing how we have managed to minimize score creep… but you still would rather go later than earlier.

In the first round, Candice Bruchhaeuser drew the bullet. I was second.

I went up and did the full, three-minute version of Merchant of Salt.

It went over really well. I was getting a vocal reaction out of a quiet crowd. They were reacting in the right places to the right things. I scored well, but it was early and… Gavin was next… and he outscored me by .1

I realized that my score was likely not as good as I thought. Scores were going up and…. wait a minute. Not so fast.

The lack of score creep WAS a thing. After all eight poets had gone, Gavin was in first, I was in second, behind him by only .1. The fifth place poet (which is th dividing line where enough people pass me so I drop out of finals) was behind me by 1.2

Things looked pretty good. I felt good. The confident boost was there. I rehearsed my brand-new poem… the one I added at the last minute that got Ikenna excited. It is called ‘Pardon My Language’ and is straight comedy.

I often don’t do straight comedy. I sometimes do ‘funny with a message’, but this isn’t really that.

Well, a little political commentary…

… well, I guess, a decent amount of social commentary, to be honest. 🙂

I drew second again. Still not a great spot, but after the first round, I was less worried. Lana had gone first in the round and had picked her score up quite a bit (after being criminally underscored in round one).

The crowd loved my poem. Ruthanne said that I went too fast and I didn’t give them enough time to laugh, but they laughed a lot. My energy was on point and my momentum was sizzling.

I got a 27.9 – the highest score of the night thus far… it included a 9.9 on a night when nobody had received a 10…

… until Candice went back up late in the round, got that 10 and got a 28.6, the only score to top mine. In the end, with all 16 scores added up, I got the second highest individual score and tied for the fourth highest individual score.

I won the semi-final, topping Gavin by .3

We are to be joined by Candice and P-Rime (and four poets coming out of the second semi-final, next saturday).

I really feel like momentum is on my side. I will be surrounded by great poets, so there is NO such thing as a sure thing, but I really think this might be my year.

One thing I feel sure about is this: if I DON’T get my name on the belt, it won’t be because I didn’t give it my all. It will be because somebody deserves it more.

My poems are picked. Memorization starts tomorrow.

I’ll be ready for May 24th. I feel good. I feel confident. I just want to share some poems and maybe, just maybe, become the tenth CapSlam Champion.

2005 – John Akpata
2006 – Jim Thomas
2007 – Free Will
2008 – Marcus Jameel
2009 – Ian Keteku
2010 – Chris Tse
2011 – Sense-Say
2012 – OpenSecret
2013 – Bruce Narbaitz
2014 – ???


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