Poetry Slam 2/4, SEMI-FINAL!

Last night’s slam was all kinds of hot.

Mahogany L. Browne (see my last post) from NYC was our feature. Stunning. I’ve never heard a poet follow a haiku with the line, “it’s like a fart, you hear it first and then you smell it.” Class act, Mo! I especially enjoyed the poem for her daughter and the poem to a woman in love with a poet (lord, help us all!)

The slam has a youtube site! Check out new videos all the time.

The slam was a throw down. Because of a tie, we took ten poets in the semi-final, making for a long show and some poetry fatigue. We did the draw and the poets read in this order:

1. Matt Gano

2. Jennifer Pritchard

3. Jack McCarthy

4. Sarah Sapienza

5. Danny Hallelujah

6. eLa

7. Roberto Ascalon

8. Greg B

9. Sara Brickman

10. St. Even

With a couple of exceptions, I thought most of the poets did not perform up to their usual ability. I don’t say that to criticize anyone, the slam was jam packed with talent, only to say that I think nerves and stress got to some of the poets last night and so the poems didn’t connect with the audience as well as it could have. I am very proud of our scene for putting out such amazing writing in slam.

So, only other slam hosts and slam nerds will appreciate this, but I think I did a good job talking to the judges about score creep and consistency. The first score in a ten person round was a 26.5 and the last score was a 26.3.

Jack McCarthy brought his most touching piece, “Careful What you Ask for,” in round one. He was excellent as always, but a little quiet on the mic. That poem made me cry AGAIN! I’ve heard it so many times now and still it moves me. It should go down in the great big book of best slam poems ever.

eLa was a break-away in round 1 performing her poem about being gay in the military. I think the audience loved eLa last night for her straight forward style of story telling and her honesty on stage.

I was most surprised by Greg B’s score in round one. Mo Browne commented after the show that Greg’s self-confidence on stage was wonderful. His score matched the poet before him but was still a point behind eLa.

I was also shocked by Sarah Sapienza’s score, which was simply too low for that gorgeous poem.

At the end of round 1, the scores looked like this:

1. Matt Gano (26.5)

2. Jennifer Pritchard (25.8)

3. Jack McCarthy (26.9)

4. Sarah Sapienza (25.2)

5. Danny Hallelujah (26.7 after .5 time penalty)

6. eLa (27.7)

7. Roberto Ascalon (26.3 after .5 time penalty)

8. Greg B (26.7)

9. Sara Brickman (26.9)

10. St. Even (26.3)

Round two, the poets read in reverse order. Stand
out poets in this round were Roberto Ascalon with his complex and gorgeous poem about Samsara and eating animals. Also, Matt Gano really brought it home as the last poet of the round with his poem about miracles. You can thank me for that writing prompt later Matt!

Daemond and I were biting our nails about a potential 3-way tie going into the last round! I honestly don’t know what we would have done. Taking them all into the last round would have made the night drag into morning, but a three way haiku battle in a semi-final. Terrible!! (tied poets in bold)

After Round 2, cum scores were:

1. Matt Gano (54.0)

2. Jennifer Pritchard (52.1)

3. Jack McCarthy (53.9)

4. Sarah Sapienza (52.4)

5. Danny Hallelujah (53.9)

6. eLa (56.1)

7. Roberto Ascalon (52.9)

8. Greg B (53.9)

9. Sara Brickman (54.0)

10. St. Even (52.7)

In the third round, poets read in this order:

1. eLa

2. Matt Gano

3. Sara Brickman

I’ve got to be honest and say I was a little busy with money, prizes, spilling my drink, etc to fully pay attention to the last round. I’m not sure what poem eLa did, but Matt did his poem “To the Moon,” and Brickman did the “Bison Stomach Poem.”

Daemond and I were biting our nails once again after eLa and Matt tied, each getting a 27.7. But, they ended up taking the night after Brickman’s poem took a 27.3.

Matt and eLa were both really excellent last night. I am feeling for Sara Brickman, though, who has now taken 3rd place in both of the semi-finals we’ve had so far. Brickman, you might need to have a talk with Buddy Wakefield on the subject of near misses. Brickman and I write and workshop together and she is a real talent and rising star.

Poets who now have spots in the Grand Slam are…


Matt Gano

Maya Hirsch

Karen Finneyfrock

Some other general comments about poets from last night:

  • Jennifer Pritchard really took her game up a notch last night. I was impressed with both poems. Often poets who are new to this forget that they might be in slam against poets who have been doing this for 15 years like Danny Hallelujah. Welcome to this bizarre sport Jennifer!
  • Danny Hallelujah is someone I can’t get enough of on stage. His poems are well crafted and he has the saavy of a slammer who has toured extensively.
  • St. Even is improving at a rapid rate. I can’t help but think of Ryler Dustin when he is on stage. When Steven really gets his stage presence down, he’s going to be a threat to us all.
  • Greg B, DO NOT GIVE UP! You just keep improving. It is only a matter of time.
  • Roberto Ascalon, good to have you back up there. Keep keeping us on our toes.
  • Sarah Sapienza, I truly love your poems. I often wish I had written them. Like Kris Kristofferson said to Sinead O’Conner after she tore up that picture of the pope, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

GREAT WORK EVERYONE!! It was a really fun night to watch.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by danny on February 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    I am so glad that tie didn’t happen to make it to the 3rd round. I already had to leave early because the babysitter was done @ midnight. Although, it is an honor to be part of the grayhair brigade.


  2. Dear Karen,

    Thanks so much for writing this blog. I’ve been trying to move to Seattle for almost six months now, and keep getting stuck on the east coast for things like jewish holidays and knee surgery. I love your work, and I really appreciate the slam reports, as some of my Seattle friends (ahem, M.H.) don’t ever call to tell me these things!

    Will I be seeing you at WoWps?



  3. Posted by mckfrock on February 6, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Thanks Dane!

    Sadly, I will not make it to WOWps this year. I have a teaching gig that weekend. But, I will be cheering for the Fierce Five from Seattle! Watch for them and you rock it too!


  4. Give up? Pshaw.


  5. It’s hard to remember I only stepped up onto the slam stage in October ’08. Thanks for the kind words and the pre-show mic help.


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