During the break at the last Hot-Sauced Words I had a discussion about slam with some of the other writers there. Some were familiar but none of them had ever either slammed, or judged a slam. Both of which I have done & do. They were very curious how one judged – what was the criteria? I later had a talk with another friend who wanted to know if points were docked if the slammer used a device ie: read from cellphone or, gasp, paper.
For those of you who have never been to a slam, or who have been judged by me, here’s a bit of insider info on how I judge & why I gave the scores that I do. First off being off book isn’t relevant to me as long as the poet performs with energy, commitment & focus. On the other hand if they hold their work in front of their face my score gets lower. Mostly they are off-book – but if it is the same piece they used the last time they competed I’m less impressed.
The writing has to be engaging – if it’s a piece about, say, one’s eating disorder & being called pretty – it better be fresh as I’ve heard enough body dysmorphia already. I am sympathetic to the issue but sympathy points may not be enough. Ditto for sex, or usually not getting it or getting the wrong kind.
At a slam there is usually a sacrifice poet – one not in the competition but one who does a piece for the judges to ‘practice’ scoring – the other performers are to judged on that scale. But I think for many of us judges we also have the scale of others we have heard. Not that I expect slammers to be at the level of say – Johnny Trinh or Charlie C. Petch.
A piece that I mentally use when considering use of explicit language & the element of surprise, is from early 60’s – this is only the start of a much longer piece which by the end one is transported. The start grabs, then in subsequent sections sustains, my interest. The Speed of Darkness – by Muriel Rukeyser
Whoever despises the clitoris despises the penis
Whoever despises the penis despises the cunt
Whoever despises the cunt despises the life of the child.
Resurrection music, silence, and surf.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen
I followed every moment
from the very first cellphone video
the Facebook feed was mesmerizing
the tweets head spinning
the pundits were informative
I couldn’t get enough
close ups of the bleeding
were heart rending
I was washed by this flood
that this had happened
men women children
forced to leave their homes
no safe place
shown no mercy
by their attackers or the press
I had to watch
to get the latest feed
the freshest atrocity
to feed my growing sense of outrage
drowning in powerless
Burger King now has gluten free buns
Chapbooks available: http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6
on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted: Disability after Dark iTunes
June 9-10: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 – flight & hotel booked already
check out these poets from Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016
August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already
November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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