Wednesday, August 11, 2010

National Poetry Slam odds and ends (video)

A few odds and ends related to last week:

1. Want to see something weird? Here's me on Kare 11's Showcase Minnesota.

2. Here's the poem I did in Semifinals, courtesy of 3 minute egg:

3. Here's some footage of one of our prelim bouts, focusing on us and Urbana:

4. Here's some footage from Finals stage, focusing on us and the Nuyorican:

5. Matt from 3-minute egg also captured some of my teammate's poems. Explore his website here-- lots of good Fringe stuff too.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

We Won the National Poetry Slam Again (thoughts)

(I grabbed this photo from the Pioneer Press article). A few thoughts:

1. For those who missed it, my team (Saint Paul) just won the National Poetry Slam for the second year in a row. We faced NYC Nuyorican, Durham and Austin Neo in the Finals. It was a close bout.

2. NPS, all in all, was a good time. A few teams I'd have liked to have seen in Finals didn't make it, but that's how it goes. Hip Hop Headquarters was a great time. The Asian/Pacific Islander Open Mic was the most inspiring event I went to. The bouts themselves were pretty good, at least ours were. As the home team, we had lots of people at each one-- definitely an advantage, but whatever-- it was fun.

3. Quick note on the "victory lap" poem. It was actually my idea. Not conceptualized as a victory lap. Just wanted to get our fifth member on stage, and he happened to have a PERFECT "thank you and safe travels" poem-- the HOST said "victory poem." Sorry if it came off differently.

4. Did the new repeat rule make Finals a better show? Probably. No, it wasn't the most mind-blowing finals ever, but I doubt the no-repeat rule would have fixed that. It's weird. We won last year largely because of the no-repeat rule, but Finals suffered for it. I like the idea of forcing poets to have deeper pockets, but I hate an underwhelming Finals. It's arguable that this year was still an underwhelming Finals, but I don't think we can blame the repeat rule. We all just have to step our game up as writers and performers.

5. That said, I performed my handshake poem tonight. Not my favorite/best poem, but very strategically useful. I want to have something more suitably epic next year. That's the best part of NPS-- being inspired to get better. Lots of writing to do.

6. I have to immediately get back to work. A show tomorrow night at the End Slavery Now Conference at the U of M, finishing up the new mixtape, setting up a Fall tour, organizing workshops and events for the Canvas' fall schedule, a million other things. Please don't ask me how it feels to win nationals. I ain't got time for feelings!

For real though-- huge thanks to everyone who has supported us this past week. Winning NPS is cool, but it's only worthwhile if we can USE all that attention and press to BUILD our local scene-- poets can grow as artists, new poets can emerge, audiences can multiply... that's what I'm really excited about.

Below is the transcript of my handshakes poem:

Friday, August 06, 2010

We made NPS Finals!

What a week. I may post some extended thoughts later, but in short: we won both our prelims and our semifinals bout, beating some great teams. Next up is the National Poetry Slam FINALS.

It's Saturday, August 7 at the Roy Wilkins. 8pm. $25. I know it's kinda pricey, but we'll be up against Durham, Austin Neo Soul and NYC's Nuyorican team, the last of which is, by all accounts, a monster team. As an added bonus, Doomtree's P.O.S. is playing a short set too.

Also, watch out for us tomorrow on Fox 9 in the morning. Also also, in the afternoon, I'm going to be at the Asian-American/Pacific Islander open mic-- 1pm at the Lowry Lab Theater. Should be a great show.

Huge thanks to everyone who has been supporting us. Go Twin Cities!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

National Poetry Slam update (we made semis!)

Wow. Very good week so far. My team (Saint Paul) took first in both our prelim bouts, so we're going on to semifinals on Friday night at 8pm. I don't know which venue yet, but check late tonight and tomorrow to find out. We've been performing pretty flawlessly, if I may say so, and are very excited for semis.

If we win our semifinals bouts, we'll move on to Finals on Saturday night at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. P.O.S. will also be performing at Finals, so there's that.

A few random highlights:

~I facilitated a workshop on "Engaging Youth with Spoken-Word" and it was AMAZING. No broad philosophical rambling about nothing-- just smart people sharing concrete, practical tips, strategies, activities and more. I'm going to email out our notes to every teaching artist that I know-- there's some GOLD in there. If you want to be included in that email, leave a comment.

~I also hosted the Hip Hop Headquarters open mic and-- though I sometimes have misgivings about (other) poets trying to rap-- the event was beautiful. Local and national artists blessed the stage, from Eyedea to Desdamona to Jive Poetic to Kristoff Krane to Bamboo MC to No Bird Sing to Sean Anon to Ezra to Bugs to Tish Jones to See More Perspective and many others. Even a poet named "President Obama," played the piano and rapped Lupe's "The Cool."

~Our bouts were both packed-- shoulder to shoulder sweaty packed. Thanks so much for the love. Home field advantage.

~It's been disgustingly nice outside, at least today and yesterday. There was a freak windstorm during Albuquerque's bout, but that's about it.

~I got to be on the Current, KFAI, Kare 11 TV, the Star Tribune, Vita.MN and the Pioneer Press, which also published my op-ed about why slam poetry matters. Whatever happens in the tournament, I'm getting lots of press, haha. More importantly, the Twin Cities spoken-word SCENE is getting lots of press. Our September and October slams had better be huge. Oh also, Khary and Sierra got to go on Kerri Miller's show on MPR.

~Chocolate-covered potato chips aren't my pre-bout ritual-- I just like them. Candyland is right around the corner from the AQ.

~ @wardrubrecht and @fishdesmith have been live-blogging/tweeting bouts, and are going some great play-by-play analysis. Ward, in particular, is being a hard-ass, which I whole-heartedly support.

~Follow the #NPS2010 hashtag on Twitter for all kinds of random thoughts.

More soon.