Seattle Poetry Slam 2/16

Happy Friday everyone. Here is another installment of our Seattle Slam coverage by Dane Kuttler. Enjoy!

Hi y’all – before we get started, you should know that I missed the slam this week. Sorry!

Sierra DeMulder

Sierra DeMulder is trailing the clouds of glory everywhere. She’s the slam community fairytale right now – a sweet lady from the Twin Cities makes it big when she helps lead her team to a Nationals win, and then starts dating the cutest poet in Texas. Right now, I bet Sierra could float a raft to the North Pole and the polar bears would offer her a feature as soon as she arrived. That’s how good she is.

How good is Sierra? She’s so good she managed to deliver a whopping thirteen poems in 25 minutes. She understands that a feature performance is nothing like a slam performance. In a slam, you have to pretend the audience isn’t there – interacting with them can make you go overtime, or look unprofessional. Sierra, on the other hand, had such a spell on us, she could interrupt her own pieces with a raised eyebrow, a giggle, or short comment – and go smoothly back into the poem without it having felt like an interruption. That takes real skill.

And writing! How could I go two paragraphs without mention that just like our own Karen Finneyfrock, Sierra is a Write Bloody author! I was lucky enough to get one of the nine copies of her book, The Bones Below. Lots of her feature’s highlights are included in The Bones Below, – “Mrs. Dahmer,” “Static,” and “Paper Dolls” – but since I have limited space, I want to talk about compassion.

Many of Sierra’s poems are (by her own admission) dark and twisty. Abuse, rape, murder, self-injury – all of these make prominent appearances. None of these topics are strangers to poets, but it’s Sierra’s take on them that leaves the greatest impact on her audiences and readers. No character escapes compassion in Sierra’s poems – there are no true villains, no blackness without candles, no drowning. Desperation, anguish, suffering and violence? Yes. Hopelessness? Questionable. But it’s Sierra’s ability to lead the audience to the softest parts of their hearts. Take this excerpt from “Paper Dolls”

Some days you will feel dirty.

Some weeks you’ll remember how hard it is to breathe in public,

but know this:

the person who did this to you is broken. Not you.

The person who did this to you is out there,

choking on the glass of his chest.

It is a windshield

and his heartbeat is a baseball bat:

regret this, regret this.

As my slam companion said: this is the future of rape poems. This is the future of poetry – even the things that come from our darkest and most twisted places will have access to our hearts before they meet the page. Thank you, Sierra. Thank you.

Open Mic Notes

Justin – Welcome to the mic, Justin! And thank you for your poem, a tribute to the power of the slam. I like the way Justin used pieces of performance advice as a frame for talking about the impact a slam can have on someone who’s never read before. Good work!

Casey – a piece for his lady in the audience. Awwww! (And now let us puke, but cheerfully.) Very sweet – I liked the repetition of “our love is not a sin.” Something we could all take away.

Greg Bee – the sandwich poem! Makes me hungry every time. Lovely to see you, Greg.

Karen Finneyfrock – new piece! YES! “Here in Aquarius/Here in Seattle” is blasphemous, loving ode to the Seattle Slam’s hometown. Among my favorite moments was when Karen revealed that as a child, she assumed that Canada, being further north, was closer to Heaven – and that Texas was as close as one could get in the US to Hell. I want more new work! Yum!

Corvis – that man has a voice that could melt the polar ice caps, and he uses it well! He also freestyles better than I ever could. See you next week, Corvis!

Morris – Maybe I was the only one who thought Morris’s line “Praising a gay man’s fashion sense is like praising a Jew’s financial acumen” was laugh-out-loud hilarious, but I sure enjoyed it. Also, his line about having his horns filed down in kindergarten, so as to fit in better with the other children. Love it.

Miranda – “John Henry’s Body” – a beautiful limb-by-limb portrait of determination itself. “these mountains I cannot climb? I’ll tunnel through them!” Nice work!

Dane Kuttler – had a whole lot of fun on stage talkin’ about choir. I forgot how much I like open mic-ing.

Bruce V Bracken – “Why working with a debit card machine is like having sex with women” had some really good parallels that had the audience giggling like middle schoolers. Keep going, Bruce!

See you all next week!

Signing off,

~Dane Kuttler

Finneyfrock Slam News Correspondent

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