SlamNation

Slam Poem: Dan Ferri - "The Scalping"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

 
Posted by Paul Devlin:
Posted by Paul Devlin:
 

Dan Ferri’s classic slam poem, excerpted in SlamNation and shown in its entirety here. Dan’s poem is also anthologized in The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. I’ve since become a bald guy myself, and I sympathize!

A short note from Dan Ferri about the piece.... "The funny thing about this piece is that people think it's funny, which tells something about both rhetoric and street fights. In both cases you want 'em to smile first."

 

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Slam Poem: Sara Holbrook - "Do Not Dream"

Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
Posted by Paul Devlin:
Posted by Paul Devlin:
 

Posted by Paul Devlin:

So much power in words and performance. Feel the intense focus of the audience in the pauses, even when you can’t see them. Sara Holbrook demonstrates how compelling slam poetry can be when delivered by a master in this 2nd person indictment of prostitution, excerpted in SlamNation and now shown here in its entirety.

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SlamNation: Beau Sia - "Money"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

Beau Sia’s poem “Money” is now a cultural snapshot from its time of the mid-to-late ‘90s. Beau Sia was a 19-year old wunderkind when he took the stage of the Portland National Poetry Slam Finals, and became an instant star.

This poem gets SlamNation off to a roaring start. In early cuts of the movie, this was not the case. At the time, Marc Smith - “Father of the Slam” - took a look at rough cut and gave me this advice: “You have to start with the end. People need to know where they’re going, that there will be big crowds and high stakes. They need to know that this is not just about your typical boring poetry reading.” Very insightful! So that’s exactly what I did – and Beau’s high energy made him the natural choice to kick things off.

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Slam Poem: Bill MacMillan & Corey Cokes - "Main Street"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

The Providence Team at the Portland National Poetry Slam were masters of the “Group Piece” poems. This duet by Bill MacMillan and Corey Cokes, excerpted in SlamNation but complete here, is just one example of their talent.

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Slam Poem: Evert Eden - "Mandela"

Guest post by Evert Eden aka Adam Ash!

This poem was originally called Two Fathers but everyone called it "that Mandela poem”, so now I call it Mandela. It was a useful slam poem, perfectly pitched to disarm black judges. One of my best moments in slam poetry was when I performed it for an audience of over a thousand slam poetry enthusiasts at the Ann Arbor Nationals in 1995, where Deb and Steve Marsh let me read it the evening of the finals, as part of a few pre-show readings.

This was barely a year after Mandela was elected president of South Africa. I remember doing a very relaxed reading, like gentle story telling, as if I were some raconteur, and saving the emotional fireworks for the very end. Well, the crowd went wild, what with Mandela's ascendance to the presidency very fresh in people's minds. Besides, your bourgeois armchair revolutionaries really love to be milked by social justice rhetoric, whether they come from limousine liberal America, Africa or elsewhere. I should know; I'm one of them.

When I walked back to my seat, I saw people in the audience with tears in their eyes, including some cynical, hard-bitten buddies of mine who normally needed a poke in the gonads with a sharp stick to activate their tear ducts.

Another time I read it in Winston-Salem, where a black friend of mine from New York listened and then fled the venue into the night, because it reminded him too much of his own father problems. We remain good friends to this very day, even though we've never shared any confidences about our fathers beyond this poem that apparently stabbed him in the heart as fiercely as it had stabbed me. Sometimes you only find out how powerful your subterranean emotions are by writing them down.

OK, some links. My book of poems, Suck My Poem, is available here, and my novel Vagina Rebel is available here.

These days I've reincarnated myself as Adam Ash, singer-songwriter, who performs solo and with his band the Dingbots. Check out my band's CD here and follow my music career here, where you can also listen to three of my songs, including the rather bizarre My Girlfriend Got Freaky with a Strap-on.

SlamNation: Marc Smith - "Steel Mills"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

This piece is from one of the daytime showcase events at the Portland National Poetry Slam. It’s a exuberant, fanciful rumination on nuclear destruction from the man who got it all started – Marc Smith, Father of the Slam.

Marc Smith is the founder of the Poetry Slam Movement and is featured in SlamNation.

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SlamNation: Andrea Thompson - "Firebelly"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

Great example of an identity poem from Andrea Thompson. This one was an extra, but another, “After Kissing,” made it into SlamNation to show how hot the rookie Vancouver team was, almost beating Taylor Mali.

I was able to catch up with Andrea a few years ago in Toronto when I was shooting parts of BLAST! there. You can catch up with her too, in this interview.

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SlamNation: Regie Gibson - "No Poetry Today"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

Here’s Regie Gibson on the Finals stage at the National Poetry Slam in Portland Oregon. An accomplished writer and performer, Regie went on to become an individual National Poetry Slam Champion. He is also featured in the New Line Cinema film Love Jones, which is also based on his life.

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SlamNation: Team Austin - "Tube"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

“Group Pieces” are a truly unique art form that has emerged from the National Poetry Slam competition. The concept of a team of poets created by the competition naturally led to interest in collaboration. Some of the most innovative performing art I have ever seen on stage has been Group Pieces at National Slams, with poets using their voices and movement to create a masterful mix of vocal music and rhythm. Multi-dimensional poetry.

But a slam team is a fragile, ephemeral phenomenon, and a Group Piece exists as performance for a very short time. It is near-impossible to re-create after poets go their separate ways. As Taylor Mali points out, if a Group Piece is not recorded that season, it is usually lost forever.

Thankfully, this classic Group Piece from Team Austin was recorded for SlamNation. Wammo, Danny Solis, Phil West and Hilary Thomas were masters of the Group Piece that year. They were favorites to win, but as can be seen in the movie, the competition played out differently...

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Slam Poem: Taylor Mali - "What Teachers Make”

Guest post by Taylor Mali!

The first thing to notice about this performance, which comes from the final stage of the 2000 National Poetry Slam in Providence, RI, is how loud the audience can be BEFORE the poem starts. You can hear someone yell out "I love you Taylor" before I begin; but that's tame! Sometimes that good-natured hooting and hollering can last almost 30 seconds, and if you're not prepared for it you can lose your focus.

The second thing I notice is how short my hair is. I really do look like a Republican! The quirky laugh that I give to the lawyer twice is something I have stopped doing over the years because I think it's distracting. Notice that when I take the mic off the stand, which I always do at the exact same moment, the sound quality becomes appreciably worse. I wonder why I didn't hear that and move it closer to my mouth?

Lastly, of course, a pirated version of this exact performance has been on YouTube and received close to 4 million hits. Consequently, whenever I begin this poem today, depending on the venue, the audience is filled with people who either clap in excited anticipation or roll their eyes and groan, "Not THIS old poem again!"

This poem is part of the 2000 National Poetry Slam!

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And check out Taylor Mali here!

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