SlamNation

Slam Poem: Wammo - "Too Much Light In This Bar"

Posted by Wammo:

Performing in the National Slam is like eating pumpkin pie for breakfast - as soon as it's over, you wish you had done something else. 

I've been singing in bands for over 30 years and I've toured all over the world, so believe me when I tell you that the only person more pretentious and self centered than a lead singer, is a slam poet. A slam poet is a lead singer without the vocal chops. Oh sure, they can put a few words together and maybe they can sing a little but they certainly don't have the social skills to keep a band together, much less build a national following. They have to throw a big convention where they can gather with losers like themselves, drink, screw, steal each other's ideas and con thousands of people into actually paying to hear their pathetic, pedantic ramblings. All this under the guise of art. Of course, after they lose, they get wasted and go skinny dipping but enough about me.
 

Let me close by telling you that I've known Paul Devlin for fifteen years and I truly consider him to be someone I've known for more than a decade. There is one thing of which I'm sure, all of his films are lies.

He edited SlamNation to make it look like my team lost. He'll probably edit this piece as well. If Paul Devlin's name appears anywhere in this sentence, you can be sure Paul Devlin put it there for Paul Devlin's own evil purpose.

Check out Wammo's last poem "Doing Time On Isle 13!" 

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Slam America Bus Tour - Head to Head Haiku

Posted by Paul Devlin:

From Gary Glazner’s Slam America Bus Tour: two Haiku champions, Tazuo Aaron Yamaguchi and Deborah Edler Brown go head to head. Improv vs. written, who will win out?  Hosted by Big Poppa E.


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Slam Poem: Evert Eden - "Jabulani (Ballad for my Brother)"

Guest post by Evert Eden aka Adam Ash!

This is the one poem I've written that can make me cry, because I love my brother. I had to cut it down to make it work as a slam poem, and I don't rightly know where the original poem is. It's a poem that, if I perform it right, is really moving, but it's quite difficult to get it right. I once read this poem, really a praise song to my brother, in South Africa, with my brother in the audience. The next day he told me that listening to the poem was like taking acid. He made me promise never to read the poem in South Africa again, although I was free to perform it anywhere else.

This is what's known as the problem of two writers living together: You're not allowed to steal my life, it's my material, not yours. But then Aldous Huxley wrote brilliantly about his literary crowd in Point Counterpoint,so that even an outsider who just read a few literary magazines would know who the real-life people were on whom all his characters were based. The novel was a classic of its day, because he had stolen everyone's life around him -- and did it brilliantly.

OK, some links. My book of poems, Suck My Poem, is available here, and my novel Vagina Rebel is available here.

These days I've reincarnated myself as Adam Ash, singer-songwriter, who performs solo and with his band the Dingbots. Check out my band's CD here and follow my music career here, where you can also listen to three of my songs, including the rather bizarre My Girlfriend Got Freaky with a Strap-on.

Slam Poem: Jessica Care Moore - "How To Make Love"

Posted by Rina Svet:

Jessica has a whole collection of amazing, daring poetry, and in this bold piece she slaps the issue of sex vs. love on the table, teaching the men she speaks to, as the title claims, how to make love.

“Don’t just call out my name, ask me my name!” she demands.  Check out the whole riveting piece, it’s well worth a listen!

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SlamNation Extra - Spending a Morning With muMs

Guest post by Thomas Poole:

First of all it was an honor to videotape muMs in the neighborhood and home he grew up in. I had been working at the Nuyorcan Poets Café and had watched muMs work his poetic magic for years.  When Paul and I asked muMs to tape at his house he was a little hesitant. He made it clear that he didn’t let a great deal of people inside his personal life. This clip gives a little glimpse of muMs in his native and beloved Bronx.

One thing not shown in this clip (but is in the final movie SlamNation) was muMs telling how proud he was that his mother finally recognized him as a writer. He showed me pictures of his family, especially his father, a locksmith who was a first generation immigrant from the Caribbean islands, who never knew about his son’s literary accomplishments. Although, muMs was a highly rated football player destined to play in college on an athletic scholarship, he felt his father would have been just as proud about his writing achievements as his athletic ones. Back then, on stage, muMs portrayed himself as an urban guerilla style samari poet (even in this clip he is wearing solider like clothing) which served him well in getting acting roles in films like Bamboozle and the television series like Oz. However, this clip shows a more serene side of him even in the midst of him describing some unsavory aspects of his block. After that morning, I became more aware that the heart of his work is rooted in his devotion to his family and neighborhood.

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Slam Poem: Kevin Samsel - "Stadium Poet"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

Wonderful parody. Now contrast these tongue-in-cheek aspirations to some words of wisdom from, Pilote, a slammaster in Paris:  "The great thing about slam poetry is there's not enough money in it, so it will never get ruined."


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Slam Poem: Phil West - "Since Graduation"

Posted by Rina Svet:

In this amusing poem, fully titled "Response to Question Number Three On My Ten-Year High School Reunion Questionnaire: What Have You Been Doing Since Graduation?"  Phil West takes us on a little adventure of what he's encountered since graduation.  It's certainly not what you'd expect!


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Slam Poem: Evert Eden - "The Hate of Love

Guest post by Evert Eden aka Adam Ash!

This is a poem that started out as a rant against one woman who'd dumped me and a praise song for another with whom I was having the most excellent sex. I read it at a workshop of a tribe of us downtown Nuyorican poets who met every week in 1993-94 under the guidance of Professor Steve Cannon, the eminence gris of downtown New York poetry and art, and Bob Holman, the founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, who back in those years was the slam master at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Cannon and Holman have a truly encyclopedic knowledge of poetry and poets, and their comments were invaluable to all of us. Plus when you heard what other poets were coming up with, it invariably influenced you. A young poet who was much influenced by Rimbaud read a short piece that was pretty wild with the metaphors; this one little poem immediately freed me from my T.S. Eliot fixation into the madness of doing whatever the fuck I wanted with language and metaphor. It became an obsession with me to go as far out as I could with the most extravagant shit I could imagine.

Now when I read this particular little rant, one of the poets there that night picked out a line in the middle of the poem that he thought was very strong. Hmm, I thought. In my rewrite, I moved the line to the end of the poem, and then went back over the whole damn thing to anchor the poem around political and cultural strife. Suddenly everything came together, and the poem actually meant something.

One likes to think of a poet as a creature who writes her thoughts in the very private and splendid isolation of an Emily Dickinson, but some of us find that a poem can be improved immensely if it has to fight for itself in the open, exposed to the public gauntlet of other poets.

OK, some links. My book of poems, Suck My Poem, is available here, and my novel Vagina Rebel is available here.

These days I've reincarnated myself as Adam Ash, singer-songwriter, who performs solo and with his band the Dingbots. Check out my band's CD here and follow my music career here, where you can also listen to three of my songs, including the rather bizarre My Girlfriend Got Freaky with a Strap-on.

Slammin' - Susan Ross - White Girl Blues

Posted by Paul Devlin:

This piece is an excerpt from Slammin’  the television pilot that preceded SlamNation. Susan Ross distills the same discovery I made about slam poetry and why I wanted to bring it to as large an audience as possible:  “Everyone has a poem in them...”
 

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Slammin' Trailer

Slam Poem: Taylor Mali - "I Could Be a Poet"

Guest post by Taylor Mali!

The first thing I notice about this performance from 1996—when I was 31 years old—is that I move way too much. All that bouncing and flouncing and giggling around! Some might be explained away by greater internal stores of youthful energy, but what I recognize is someone who is trying to hide his jitters with excessive movement. Notice how I never stand with my body fully facing the audience; always I am at an angle. That's a nervous habit that I have pointed out in hundreds of students since then, so it's refreshing to see that I was guilty of the same back then.

As for the poem, which was already six years old by then, it was the first of a series of "parody poems" I have written that got me into a lot of trouble. I mock poets in general and specific poets in particular to throw them off their game, to make them worry about other things besides the best poem to send up in the slam. Notice how when I say, "I know what I'm talking about and you should too," I thump my chest and make some gestures with my hand and the audience laughs for no apparent reason. What you need to know is that Bill MacMillan, my teammate that year, had done a wonderful poem that was entirely in a kind of sign language. My little maneuver probably got me a couple extra dimes from the judges because they thought, "This guy isn't afraid to use his poetry to jab other poets!"

Lastly, I specifically remember screaming at a camera in the front row on the side. I had no idea who was filming or for what purpose. In my head I thought, "This will make great footage for someone somewhere even though I will never see it." Turns out I was only half right.

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And check out Taylor Mali here!

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