Judgemental? Me!

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.

Finally there is something I call stage presence, an undefinable aura that can push an 8.5 piece to 9.6 or even a 10 – though I have never given a 10. I’m mean like that 🙂


Gluten Free

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

of compassion

dismay dispair

that this had happened

innocent people

men women children

killed maimed

forced to leave their homes

clubs churches

no safe place

shown no mercy

by their attackers or the press

I had to watch

flipping channels

media devices

to get the latest feed

the freshest atrocity

to feed my growing sense of outrage

drowning in powerless


oh look

Burger King now has gluten free buns

Chapbooks available: http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


kiss314257567_1162384753819933_3271661288579707843_oon going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

April season 3 FINALS – Friday April 15th Buddies in Bad Times – early show – 7pm start – Featuring Queen Sheba. Slam winner gets trip to Capturing Fire & maybe coffee with me in DC.games


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




Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


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