‘falling in love while in love’

Hot Damn’s season 6 finale was via Zoom. For once I didn’t feel I was taking the best seat in the house 🙂 But it was a pretty quiet house of nearly 60 people from across Canada & possibly around the world as there is no way to tell where who is zoomin’ from. In fact one has the choice of being in the room & not being seen. Cool & the tool of  future social distancing.

Slam rules cover costume & props but may have to extend to backdrops 🙂 The picture quality is good, depending on the cameras of the users. Sound quality was excellent. The poets were all very comfortable in front of the camera & in fact some more confident without a live audience in front of them.

The work of the slam poets was excellent, I don’t envy the judges. I enjoyed the few pieces that took on covid19 in a practical way – what do you do when the voices in your head that use to force you to wash your hands compulsively are now really coming from your TV? Writing & performances were excellent. Scoring was quicker without flip cards to flip 🙂

 

Feature Jillian Christmas, in BC wearing polkadots & behind a drum kit, started her set by reminding us of what has been silenced in the covid19 clatter i.e. pipeline oppression of indigenous peoples. I’ve seen Jillian several times & her warmth & emotional vulnerability is a blessing. Singing, reciting & reading a few piece from her book ‘The Gospel of Breaking’ her set was too short. Her simple self-accompaniment reminded me of Jessie Mae Hemphill. Just a couple of lines of too many great lines ‘there are no renewable resources’ ‘falling in love while in love.’ If you want more, buy her book: https://arsenalpulp.com/Books/T/The-Gospel-of-Breaking 

The show was nimbly hosted by Robyn Sidhu, with an able assist by Charlie Petch. It was a great success without a venue 🙂 But I did miss the live reactions of the audience. There is no ‘hiss’ or ‘boo’ button to react to the scores. Texting those remarks doesn’t have the same energy.Scores were added up. A winner was declared. Who? You’ll have to follow Hot Damn to find out 🙂

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‘the unzipping of the promise’

Season six of Hot Damn! has seen attendance grow steadily while the courage & numbers of slammers grow as it continues to offer a safe space for lgbtqia creatives to explore & express themselves, plus laugh, cry, sing & dance in harmony.  The newly shorn Robyn Sidhu hosted the show & left things moving smoothly with some handy Dad jokes & pointed political comments. Her family escaped Punjabi state sanctioned genocide to Canada where she now witnesses Canada’s state sanctioned genocide of its native population. 

A fair bit of the work centered around mothers – the guilt of not loving the one who never loved you, the decision not to be one, the struggle for acceptance from the one who loves you. Some addressed the struggle with body image, gender dissonance & even the conflict between biology & hormone replacement. Heartfelt without becoming melodramatic or self-pitying.

The feature Sincerely Shyy gave us a set brimming with ‘black girl magic.’ ‘she is born of the cosmos’ ‘she is an indictment’ ‘I tried to make a home out of you’. I particularly liked her piece: ‘I’m not here for the revolution – I just want to fuck you’ – it was honest, sexy, fun while being politically resonant. Her set was too short 🙂

If you’ve been reading my Hot Damn! reviews you’ll notice this time there are no quotes from the open-stagers or the slammers. One thing the Queer Slam does in regards to photos is let people op out for privacy. I decided to do the same for the performers (except the feature). The show is in a public space but its contents is only for the public that shows up. ‘the unzipping of the promise’ comes from one of the slammers.

The season finale is Friday, April 3, at Buddies in Bad Times theatre.

I did hit the open stage & presented ‘Swim’ (https://wp.me/p1RtxU-4cX) & this revised version of ‘Satisfaction’

Satisfaction 

it went exactly as planned

the only one disappointed

was me

I wanted things to be better

the story of my life

 

the right size is never right enough

a good fit isn’t adequate

the praise adulation 

are mere stop gaps

diversions

from going beyond expectations

 

good enough

feels like settling for less

it isn’t satisfying to measure up

it has to be unforgettable

 

your good enough is fine by me

but that good enough

isn’t worth bothering with

when I am the one not satisfied

by perfection

https://capfireslam.org

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“crazy does not discriminate”

The shocking, to many, blanket of snow that covered Toronto Thursday didn’t cool the enthusiasm of the audience for the Hot Dam show hosted by Robyn Sidhu at Buddies that night. The crowd was, as always, receptive & at times noisy in response to the performers.

random lines from the open stagers & slammers that started the show. banana marshmallows for The Man With X-Ray Eyes; the candy turned into glue bars; ran faster that nightmares; my mouth unbroken; why am I haunting him; I cycle through the motions; I miss you too much to do the dishes; queer as in – if I die in prison it was not a suicide, queer as in – everything is trying to erase me; my mother asks, why are doctors lying to her; don’t you think I was a good mom.

Feature Wes Ryan gave an amazing performance, at times it was like chatting over coffee with a good friend. The pieces were deeply personal, some dealt with trauma but without melodrama or self pity. The work of a survivor who accepts the cost of lessons. random lines: I watched those pigeons grow, they would run to the edge & stop, those times you made it through without intervention, memory lapses overlapping, I had addictions: powder cocaine, taking the blame; perverts protected by apathy; get nervous when I can’t see the eyes attached to the fingers, rest was a chore I did until I was ready to relapse.

As he performed he complained about the heat (such a porn trope – is it getting hot in here?) removing sports jacket, tie etc then for one of the final poems off with his outer garments to reveal a dress.  “didn’t study dance but learned how to fall with accuracy, the thin line between fight &  flight, crazy does not discriminate.”

After the break there was a fresh, fun, open stage of cold reads of random poems from random books of poetry on the stage. What a great way to expose the audience, & poets, to the work of other poets. From the final round: my mental health is a sitcom, only my anxiety & depression ever fucked me silly, he looks at me a little too long, my mind enters rooms well after my body does, my body is a magic trick like a disappearing home that should have been safe, love is the words to a song that has no translation.

Winners were declared, prizes given out & the show wrapped by 9:30. The next Toronto Hot Damn is January 23, 2020.

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one of the scary pieces I read

The Haunting of Him

it is a parapsychological theory

I learned from ghost hunter shows

which says it is unfinished business

emotional 

hidden treasures 

lost keys

that keeps restless spirits on earth

but we had no unfinished business

so I don’t know why

I’m haunting him

Hot Algorithm Method

Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam launched its sixth season with a show that reflected & amplified the diversity of poets, slam & otherwise, in the LGBTQIA community. Passionate, articulate voices meet & perform on the stage to challenge our personal concepts of LGBTQIA.

The launch was hosted by Robyn Kaur Sidhu, with some off-stage organizing help from Robert Molloy & Heather Beamish. These are the new energy needed to propel this growing series into the the next five years 🙂 Don’t worry Charlie Petch is merely stepping back a little to let others experience grow. Stepping Back, not stepping away 🙂

After a rousing opening by Ogichdaa Kwe – with a pair of greeting songs, the show got started with a great open stage lined up. Lines from the open stagers: I give myself permission to be messy, melting on an angel’s tongue, I slap my own face, so listen to what I say/ before I change my mind, you are what I thought was impossible, your birdcage heart, temporary stitches of reconciliation, she never asked for her hair to be cut

Lines from the first slam round: the laugh track that follows my body around is deafening, algorithms know the name of the wrong man before I meet him, his body looks like security, brunch at exactly 11:03 a.m. every Sunday for the last 3 years, out of the car or out of the brain/ whichever comes first, code – nothing – to hide, lid – open – eyes, I know where my passing privilege lands, my body a war zone of what-ifs, you solidarity is performative

 

Feature Zoey Roy (https://www.facebook.com/therealzoeyroy/) took the stage and invited us into her unflinching worldview. Saskatoon’s loss is definitely Toronto’s gain.  I remember smile, you had your voice all along, we’ve been silence on purpose, your homes & our fears, every fire needs a stone, they tried so hard to bury us/ they know know we were seeds, someone who forgot they once had dreams, a rap-sheet longer than his life, in the mirror I recite a new approach, bravery doesn’t make us any more/ fear doesn’t make us any less, a nice fantasy but a crude reality

after a brief break we were into round 2: my gender got lost not he way to the poetry slam, a go-fund-me for white tears, love can burn brightly between those who are supposed to love, ideas in a book I wasn’t supposed to read, I would rather be a sinner than be unscathed, heart – felt flutter – butterfly, for the first time I am seeing the damage, silent to protect those who hurt me, said it was my fault when it wasn’t –

Scores were tallied, winners announced, prizes given. The real winners, as usual, were the audience. The next Toronto Hot Damn! is November 7, at Buddies in Bad Times.

I read a couple of pieces on the open stage including:

The Company You Keep

the owner of the cafe

had called someone

an inappropriate name

it was a twitter thing

a video 

posted of the 

owner saying 

those offensive things

now no one can go

to the cafe

without being considered guilty

of saying those things themselves

 

now

to be honest

I haven’t heard

what the owner said

I haven’t watched the video

this is all the context I know

and now

I can’t even mention the name

of the cafe

I can’t even admit 

that I’ve been there

in the past

or let it be known

that I regret

that I can’t go to that cafe

ever again

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020 – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet