I’ve missed a few of these gatherings, but found my way back to The Low Beat in time to hang out & catch the open mic, with Kevin Peterson as host.
Josh started off with “Disassembly” which sounded like a youthful memoir about breathing fumes. I followed, & since it was Election Day in the USA performed “Put Down the Government Rag.” Jessie read a poem in which he talked about “folding 1000 paper cranes for serenity.” L-Majesty‘s poem “With Dignity & Justice For All” was for Brittany Maynard.
Ainsley’s poem was titled (I think) “Cojones” but it was about cooking. Brian Dorn’s poem was about looking for cooperation (in spite of its title, “Politics”). Mojavi read a new piece, from his phone, inspired by a student of his who was recently arrested — twice — “You Never Had A Chance.” Tenesha Smith did a very short piece that she dedicated to L-Majesty, then a more substantial poem, “Hands Up,” dedicated to black men who have been beaten by the police. The last open mic poet, Casey Fisk, performed “Do Not Bring Me Flowers” from memory, a clever poem playing with the names of flowers.
el presidente, Thom Francis took over hosting the Slam & I almost choked when he announced it would be a 12-4-2 Slam. The sacrificial poet, Brandon (from the Buffalo Slam team), set a high standard scoring 27.3. But with that many slamming in the 1st round there had to be variety & few pushed the 3 minute limit, including P.V. coming in at a shockingly short 1.2 minutes stringing positive phrases together free-form. Stephen rhymed, Mojavi read from his phone, L-Majesty sounded like he’d been to P.V.’s Church of the Positively Positive, Amani showed that Slam clichés get you 10’s (she got 3, but of course only 2 counted *); others included Anna, Josh Kent (talking to God from his phone), Jesse, Elizag, K.P., Jimmy (fighting a Civil War video game), & Shannon believing in happy endings.
Round 2 boiled down to K.P., Elizag, Amani & L-Majesty, with both Elizag & L-Majesty scoring 3 10’s. And when that dust settled, Amani ended up in the 3rd spot while Elizag & L-Majesty battled it out. Elizag scored 4 10’s with an outrageous “I” piece, so of course 3 10’s counted for a perfect 30.0, with L-Majesty scoring close behind with 29.5 reading about slaves & racial struggle “The Shade of Our Struggles.”
The Slams continue every 1st & 3rd Tuesday at the Low Beat on Central Ave., Albany, NY — with an open mic for the rest of us.
* (In the Slam there are 5 judges; each performance is judged on a scale of 0 to 10, with the high & low scores dropped so only the middle scores are counted, so 1 10 is as good as a 0, you need at least 2 10’s for it to matter.)
This post originally appeared on Dan Wilcox’s blog on November 6, 2014.