I saw my friend and esteemed colleague April Ranger feature at Emerson Poetry Project last night. I was pretty disappointed at the turnout--I think it was the first time we've had fewer than 30 people at an EPP open mic--but of course she rocked the uglies out of all twenty of us.
April made the 2008 Cantab slam team that went to Nationals and went to Finals, and she's the current NorthBEAST Champion (took me out in the second round), and let me tell you that that those were no accidents. She really knows when to stomp the distortion petal and when to go acoustic and let the words do the work. More importantly, she's got words that do a lot of work. I'm going to misquote this, but there's a poem she did that used to be called "The Boy Makes Love to the Girl Who Cuts Herself," which she now calls "Hero." There's a line that goes something like, "you looked like an old elm tree, carved up by some stupid kids." And then this time she added this really good Civil War analogy that gave it the new title.
She brought Brian with her. He read a Patricia Smith poem on the mic, and then he even hosted the slam. What a guy. Earlier in the evening, he gave me seven cents, just because he 'didn't want it in his pockets.' I even mentioned that I still owed him 15 dollars for his book, and he was like "No. No," and then walked away.
Actually, I had given him a dollar to buy a drink even earlier in the evening. Anyway.
I sacrificed for the slam. I performed a short and pretty low key poem about depression that used Batman as its protagonist. One judge gave it a 4, and the other scores were 6's and a 7 I think (scores for the rest of the evening generally ranged between 6 and 8.5), which I thought was unfair, but generally when I reflect deeply enough on slam scores, I think, "Whatever." I will not let slam judges make me write long theatrical poems about horrible injustice. Those will come only after I experience horrible injustice, and only if I am feeling theatrical.
I say this not as a reflection on the poets I heard last night, but as a reflection on what I often see score well at a slam--although I also often see April and Brian and other similarly awesome poets score well at slams, and I think, "Cantab is a pretty awesome place, and I'm glad we exist as a community." It was a small slam and mic last night, but in general, I believe that Emerson is becoming a similarly unique and valuable space for performance poetry, and this pleases me.
It's just too bad the Emerson Student Government didn't take EPP's constitution because it was a few hours late, and now they probably won't have enough money to go to College Nationals or pay their features appropriately. Sorry to end on a negative note, but that is just an awful thing that sucks.
Beaurocracy: Can't live with it, can't shake the feeling that you would like to stop living every time you have to deal with it.