Guest post by Shappy Seasholtz!
Hello, poetry lovers! My name is Shappy Seasholtz and this here is a video of me performing my poem “Butterfly”. At this point in my illustrious “spoken-word career”, “Butterfly” was considered my “signature poem” meaning I performed this ridiculous piece hundreds of times. To me, it was the “Satisfaction” of my poetic repertoire, like when you go to a Rolling Stones concert you expect them to play “Satisfaction”. Sometimes I don’t even understand that metaphor since I’m really more of a Kinks fan.
I wrote “Butterfly” for a Rod McKuen tribute show that famous rock poet Thax Douglas put together at the Lounge Ax in Chicago sometime in the late 90’s. Rod McKuen was probably the last poet to show up on prime-time network television. He was a huge phenomenon in the late 60’s and early 70’s reading sappy love poems behind canned music. My mom had his books and an 8-track called “Listen To The Warm.” I figured what could be a more groovy topic for a poem than a butterfly? Especially one with a drinking problem? I have since performed it with jazz combos, punk bands, at comedy clubs and, of course, poetry slams.
When this video was shot we were in the last miles of Gary Glazner’s SlamAmerica 2000 bus tour. A crazy poetry experiment in which a rickety tour bus drove various slam poets across the country to perform a slam poetry revue in support of Gary’s Slam anthology that had just come out from Manic D Press. Somehow it had Grand Marnier as a sponsor which meant us broke poets could drink as much of the syrupy orange liqueur we wanted. I haven’t touched the stuff since.
We were all psyched to be performing at a NYC venue. Everybody turned it up to 11 that night. In 2000, I was on my first ever slam team (despite having been around the slam scene since 1991) representing the Mental Graffiti team out of Chicago so I had a huge chip on my shoulder and was ready to kick ass at Nationals which were in Providence, RI that year. I ended up in a 3-way tie for 11th place in Individual Finals tying a former National Champion and a NPR radio host which was impressive but kept me from the Finals stage. Our team got to semi-finals hosted by New York City poet Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. She thought I was an asshole because I refused to shake her hand as I walked on stage. Needless to say, I feel heads over heels in love with her, and later moved to New York City to be with her. We’ve been together for 11 years.
But back to this vid: I think Paul caught me at great point in my poetic path. This was my New York coming out party. I’m cock-sure, a little buzzed and fucking with the slammers heads in this video. Who knew that a year later, I’d be moving to Gotham to help Bob Holman open the Bowery Poetry Club or that two years later I’d be on the first team fielded from the BPC, and that we’d win the 2002 National Poetry Slam with the Urbana Slam team?
So I guess you could say this performance really helped me earn my wings! Get it? Wings?
Thank you! I’ll be here all night!
Uncle Shappy’s Chuckle Parlour!
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