Seattle Poetry Slam 5/29

Editorial Note from Karen: Hello blog readers! Welcome to another review of our slam by Seattle based poet Dane Kuttler. Dane warned me that she had strong negative words about one of the poems performed included in her review. She also kindly welcomed me to remove it if I felt uncomfortable publishing her opinion. I’ve decided to publish the review as she sent it. But, I also invite the poet mentioned here to respond publicly in the comments section if that poet wishes.  I wasn’t at the show so I can’t offer any comment. I will add that while I never want my blog to be a place for attacks, I do want people to feel like they can state opinions about the work performed in the public venue of the slam. If you want me to reconsider this post, please write to me directly at

Alas, slam fans, even your brave roving reporter is sometimes set afoul by public transit. This week, I squeaked into Re-Bar just as the open mic was ending, and I was relieved to find myself just in time for…

Dain Michael Down used to sometimes go by the name Dain Michael Awesome and I think it still fits. Dedicated readers may remember him as the poet who slamblogged the Seattle finals with me last year. Locals will know him as my “square root” (cuz together, we’re Da(i)n(e)^2 – get it?). I was so excited when I found out he’d be hitting up Seattle as one of the last stops on his 2010 tour.

Dain kicked off his set with “Indiana,” a piece about his birthplace that was brand-spanking new when he left (memorized now!), and immediately followed it with “Whirlwind Romance,” an edged piece of comedy that leaves the audience grimacing in sympathy. Oh my. What happened to our dear DMD? He’s been replaced by a guy who looks like he was born on stage, with an inviting, relaxed smile and a whole new attitude. He looked radiant up there, and simultaneously humble. He mentioned a few times that he considered this feature an homage to a scene that raised him – he talked about feeling safe enough to take real risks in his writing and gave us “Weight/Sum of my Pounds,” a poem that got its first light in Seattle.

Other pieces included “Phoebe,” an ode to the young woman who killed herself after being bullied by classmates – I wish he’d taken it a beat slower and much softer, more intimate. It’s a eulogy, really, powerful and agonizing. “Octopus Heart” was new, a small gem from the 30/30 writing challenge. Dain closed out with “Letter to a Future Lover,” with a brushed-up performance, and a few more moments of that damn sweet smile. Welcome home, Mr. Michael Down. Don’t stay away too long.

Tonight’s Open Slam went down something like this

Morris Stegosaurus takes the sac, starts a poem, forgets it, and starts a completely different piece – his “Big Man 2,” about a hilariously bad pickup in a sushi bar, exits with giggles and his trademark sardonic grin. 22.6 opens the slam.

Bruce V Bracken does “Beloved Uncle,” his ode to the bailout, to the tune of 19.9.

Miss Free, by no means a newcomer to the mic, but still nervous, she admits, knocks out a punchy rant on authenticity, beauty and commercialism. Miss Free has real talent with rhyme – she works it better than most. A massive time penalty (screw the time!) knocks her to a 20.8

Maya Hersh brings out an older piece, “Girl at the Bar,” and gives it new panache, bumping the score up to a solid 26.

Dane Kuttler does “Freude,” (the singing piece) and feels okay-not-great about it. 24.2

Steven Wilbur does his classic “Things I would Do for Love,” but something seems off tonight. Is being the most awesome dude in the world tiring him out? Probably. We all have nights like that. Still, Steven comes out with a 26.1.

Radio Rahim is last, with a poem that seems designed to bait the audience by comparing the Irish hunger strike with Islamic jihadists. It succeeds. He would’ve had the high score of the round, but a time penalty takes him to a 24.6

Round 2
Radio Rahim does a piece about Palestine that manages to infuriate me by crossing the line between antizionism and blatant anti-Semitism. 24.6

Steven Wilbur does a strategic flip to change the energy with “Pancreas,” – smart, and good for the show. Sadly, a 22.9 shows the audience isn’t ready for a shorter piece.

Dane Kuttler does “the Importance of Dialogue,” glaring at Rahim the entire time. When she sits down, her Square Root Dain Michael Down says “If that’s the way you perform when you’re mad, call me any time and I’ll piss you off.” 26.9.

Maya Hersh reads “8AM,” another old piece that I’m happy to see return. 26.6

Miss Free closes the round with a piece about her mother that I’ve reviewed here before. 25.6 makes the final round an all-women’s game.

Round 3

Maya leads off with “Relationships,” her classic third-round piece, and tops the night’s scores with a 27.2.

Dane follows with a piece about body image dedicated to Maya and DMD. 25.6

Miss Free capping the round once again with a poem about an abusive ex. 24.4 means Maya takes the win!

See you all next week for (gasp!) Rocky Bernstein! I’m a-quiver just thinking about it.

Signing off,
~Dane Kuttler

Finneyfrock Slam News Correspondent

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