The Nitty Gritty Slam is held on on each 1st & 3rd Tuesday at The Low Beat on Central Ave. here in Albany, NY, & that means this week it falls into Word Fest & the annual Haiku Battle, with featured visiting performer DDE The Slammer.

The host for the open mic was Kevin Peterson & first up was a brave new soul Stephen Roberts who read a tender love poem “Like a Rose Like You.” Avery performed a piece progressing through the colors of his aura. Emily Gonzalez did 2 poems, a childhood memoir of her mother’s sheets, “Cool Red Satin” & a poem for Sebastian Barr’s photos of abandoned buildings “Unnoticed.”


Isaiah Agojo, who was videoing the readers, read a haiku from high school, then a slam-style piece “Why Don’t You Say you Love Me.” Miss S. who has been here before as Jessica S. read a few haikus, then a poem from a prompt “My Pillow.” Thom il papa Francis concluded the open mic with 2 older pieces, a love poem to his insulin pump “Machine,” then a collage poem using lines sampled from a poem by R.M. Englehardt.

 

The night’s featured performer came all the way from Indianapolis, on tour, DDE The Slammer, & that’s what he delivered. He began with an evocation of youth “Nintendo Power,” then on to the more grim side of Slam, a piece about killings in Indianapolis, “The Bright Side of Death.” During the social commentary “Good Time Girls” he got heckled good-naturedly Albany-style. He did a rant about another poet’s performance, then a piece on being a Mexican in Indiana, a verbal gunman. He ended with another preachy rant “Barstool Cannon.”

Kevin v. Tasha

Then on to the night’s major bout, the Haiku Slam. I had boldly signed-up, a sheaf of haikus in my sweaty hands. Each round was the best 2 out of 3, with 3 volunteer judges (one of whom just wandered with a friend for a drink). The first rounds pitted Elizag against Steve, me against Albert C.,  Jim against Emily, Brian Dorn against Samson (a tour-de-force of on-the-spot compositions) & Tasha Davis against Shannon Shoemaker. In the second round I went up against Elizag (a formidable foe), Emily against Samson, & Kevin (who had gotten a “buy” for the 1st round because of the odd number of contestants) against Tasha.

Next, Samson went against Kevin in a wild & wooly round of personal attack haikus. Then the surprising final round where I went toe-to-toe with Samson, in which Brian Dorn loaned Samson a haiku in which “haiku” rhymed with “fuck-you.” But when the dust settled I moi!ME! was the haiku poet left standing, & I had beaten Samson’s brilliant scurrilous haikus with a bitter-sweet flower haiku:

     blue, green sleeping in
the garden — Forget-me-not
not just a flower

It was a wild ride & many good (& a few real stinkers) haiku spewed into the air.

While this event was held under the umbrella (literally, since it was snowing wetly when we headed home) of Albany WordFest 2014, the Nitty Gritty Slam is held on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday of each month in our new, rockin’ venue The Low Beat on Central Ave. in Albany, NY. Check AlbanyPoets.com for complete information.