Seattle Poetry Slam 11/2

Enjoy another Slam Update from guest blogger Dane Kuttler.

You know what I love about Cynthia French, slam fans? A lot. Let’s start with the fact that she’s one of the funniest poets out there, and one of the leading female comedic voices in our community. Then, let’s add the part where she racks up the badass points with her mad roller derby skills. Still not convinced? Okay, one more: she’s the perfect house guest. I love putting up poets in my house (it’s one of the joys of living in such a strong poetry scene – lots of visitors!), and I will have you all know that Cynthia even folded the pillowcases before we went out for sticky buns and bacon. Jealous? I thought so.

Cynthia’s feature rocked the house. She did something I wish more features did: her banter really gave the audience a sense of what it means to be a touring poet within the national slam community. Her limerick in honor of Daemond and our own Karen Finneyfrock left me giggling, as did her opening piece. Later in her set, Cynthia addressed Laura, one of the open mic-ers, with “I’ve gotten really good at pretending to be happy,” a poem that also included my favorite line of the set: “the cats communicate love through their cheekbones.” It was a fantastic, solid feature that clearly won the audience; I heard someone in front of me say “She didn’t make me cry; it was good!”

Open Mic Notes

Daemond opened the open mic with a rare treat –one of his own pieces! Yay! You should do that more often, Mr. Arrindel. I really enjoyed “For Yoko.”

Patrick C looks so different when he stands up straight! Yay for well-adjusted mics! Also, “rover fetches the sun in his great teeth” was a great line.

Laura Watts and Johnny Walker have committed to each performing something new every week, and I think this is a totally admirable undertaking that deserves recognition. Laura’s stage presence was excellent – and I really liked the way she asked the audience for support and backup. Some great lines in there, too – “daughter without a return policy” and “hide in my art” stuck with me. Johnny, congrats on your first time! His love story allegory contained the line “all my serpents could gawk.” Lovely. Good work, you two, and keep it up!

Iyeoka Okoawo surprised me with her presence next – this powerhouse of the Boston scene (NorthBEAST!) was passing through Seattle while coming back from a sweet gig in Hawai’i. Her piece completely changed the way I listen to tambourines. “this is my destiny of moments” – shivers. beautiful. So glad to see you, poet!

Matt Gano closed the mic with “live good” – an anthem to making it work. Nice job, Matt!

Slam Notes

Round 1

A very full slam kicks off with Matt Gano’s sacrifice – a piece about miracles. “baby tooth aches like childbirth” – did I get that right? – was a memorable line. 22.5

Dane Kuttler takes the 1-spot with her most cheerful piece – “Freude,” about being a Jew who sings songs about Jesus. Always a fun one. 20.7

Chase is up next with a narrative piece recounting a night out. Chase held his body in a really interesting way, pushing his shoulders forward (but not hunching over) to create an air of intimacy with the audience. 17.3

Clay was up next, with a piece about hope. 19.3

Bruce V. Bracken brought another pantoum. Seriously? We owe the man a prize for that. “short circuit breath” stuck with me. 17.3

Jeremy was up next with a piece about transformation – “Who says we don’t change?” he demanded. The audience went for it. 24.3

Oscar delighted the audience by picking up Cynthia’s reigns with “C*cksucker,” a delightfully sarcastic poem that muses about all the reasons one might be tempted to deface another person’s house with particularly crude graffiti. 21.6

Janine stepped to the mic with a story-poem about a visit to some monks. 21 even.

Denise Jolly wins my Dane’s Choice Award for this poem that encompassed class, sex, gender – a love letter to her adolescent crew. “You are better than a story about what not to do,” she reassured us. “Sail on the violence of its awkward.” Beautiful. A massive time penalty brought Denise to a 23.5

Barton Jackson came up next with a hilarious piece about advertising and commercials. Well-performed! 25.5

Mark Gonzales closed the round with a piece about SB1070. “We weren’t made in America,” he said of his immigrant heritage, “We MADE America.” Small time penalty still left Mark well in the lead with a 28.

Round 2

After cutting more than half the poets, Mark was back up with a piece that could be summed up in the phrase “hip hop is not evil.” A good reminder, if a little overstated for the spoken word crowd. Another time penalty took Mark to a 22.8

Barton Jackson came back with his “Straight Men” poem, with which I still take some issue on a content level, but I have to admit: his recent edits go a long way towards improving that piece. Lots of well-deserved confidence in performance. 22.8

Denise Jolly came up next with a poem about New York with crazy imagery. 19.3

Oscar returned with “When I am Famous,” which was alternately hilarious and poignant. “When I am famous, they will hollow out my bones for marionette cross sticks” 19.8

Jeremy finished the round with “explorers,” a piece about “wanderlust in the veins.” 17.8

Round 3

Barton finished out with a piece full of puns about cocktails. Fun, flirty, if not as polished as his first two pieces. 19.1

Oscar was up next with “Mockingbird” – “each of us is more interesting than the scars that others chose to leave on us.” This was a close runner-up for the Dane’s Choice Award. 22.7

Mark closed out with “When Gershwin met Public Enemy” with another 22.7!

In the Tiebreaker Haiku Death Round, Oscar took it by a landslide with his flirty feet haiku. In fact, I don’t even remember what Mark’s haiku was about. Ha! Congrats to first-time winner Oscar!

That’s all, slam fans. See you soon!

Signing off,
~Dane Kuttler
Finnefrock Slam News Correspondent

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