Posted by Paul Devlin
This was the first shoot for SlamNation, before we even knew we were doing a movie.
I had already made Slammin’ and was shopping it around to MTV, Sony and even Russell Simmons (this was in ‘95-’96 – a little before it’s time apparently because Russell went on to do HBO’s Def Poetry Jam many years later). Nothing was in place, but the finals at the Nuyorican were happening and I knew I had to film it.
Bob Holman was still the host at the Nuyorican but the politics were fierce and relationships tense. Bob and producer Tom Poole made the shoot happen, but under the condition that we would not have access to the direct audio from the sound board. The Nuyorican wanted to make sure it had some say in what happened to the material. Tom made sure we got the proper audio later when SlamNation was in post-production.
Saul told me that this poem was still in progress when he performed it at the Nuyorican, so it might be interesting to compare it to later versions. It was still a powerful piece, because he won that night, went to Nationals, starred in SlamNation and the rest is history.