Thursday, March 24, 2011

new website, new blog

For anyone who is still following me after all this time -

I'm redesigning my website. I have some cool ideas in mind, some of which won't materialize for another month and a half (as I develop the raw material in the form of images and videos), some of which will be implemented over the short term.

I'm going with WordPress for the backbone of the site, which also means I can incorporate my blog into the site itself. Everything is just a placeholder and a welcome sign at the moment, but jog on over to www[dot]jeffstumpo[dot]com* to start getting updates once again.

*The only comments I received in the last half-dozen or so posts over here were Chinese spam, so I'm not typing in the direct link to the new site in order to maybe, maybe help keep them off the new site for a while. It'll take an extra two seconds to fix up the URL in a copy-paste. Sorry about that.

Friday, August 6, 2010

NPS Day 4

You'll notice I missed day 3. Sorry about that. I remember an awesome Head to Head Haiku event that went down to the wire between RC Weslowski and Patrick Shaugnessy, with Patrick S. coming out on top.

Day 4 events in which I took part:

Masquerade Open Mic: Consisting of nothing but persona poems (except for a couple of people who were confused by exactly what that means), this was one of the best readings I've been to at NPS. I put up "There will be no reinvention of the wheel" to some generally good responses (including one funny one - at one of the points where I "break down," someone in the audience actually yelled out, in a helpful voice, keep it together. As if I actually feel emotion during that piece.). Mckendy did his mermaid poem, a brief piece that was a smart move near the end of the lineup. Tim didn't get to go, which sucked.

Nerd Slam: Generally a good time. Some questions/nerds took way too long, but all in all it was a good time. Well-hosted, good nerd poems once the competitive rounds were over, fun prizes. Once again, Tim did not get to go, which sucked. I wanted to hear "Fraggle Uprising."

Our bout against Denver - Mercury, Dallas - Poetry Grind, and Team Orlando:

We sent up Tim in the first round to do "Prepared Batman." I think it was a smart choice, with Denver kicking things off with a very serious poem and Dallas shifting the energy to lighthearted with a love poem. One of the judges agreed, rewarding Tim with a high score, but the reaction from the others was less than stellar. I think Tim got robbed a bit, but he did a great rendition of the piece. SFOD at the end of round 1: 4th place.

In the second round, we went serious ourselves, but a different kind of serious from what everybody else was doing. Looking to change the energy, we put up Mckendy with "Dracula to Mina Harker." It's a slow burn of a piece, almost crawling, but very sexy. Other poets turned to us and indicated hairs going up on the backs of their arms once Mckendy finished, but again, the judges weren't having it. They wanted political messages, and at the end of round two we were still bringing up the rear.

Third round, we leveraged the recent Prop 8 judgment, putting up Krista Mosca with "Trans," going for both intellectual and emotional energy. Krista got not only our highest score so far, putting the bout back within reach, but a number of hugs on her way back to the table. Vulnerability paid off, though we were still in fourth place.

We had the last slot in the fourth round, always a good place to be for something energetic, so Mark sent me up with "ADD TV." The team tells me I knocked the place dead, which is nice to hear, and more pertinent to the scoring portion of this entry, I got the high score of the bout, enough to put us into third place.

We didn't make semis, but we impressed the hell out of the poets we went up against. I have no complaints, and plenty of happies.

Perhaps more thoughts tomorrow. I'm off to the comedy open mic, the Legends showcase, and, later on, to support one or more NorthBEAST teams in semis (there are three this year). Group piece finals tonight, and of course Underground Indies looms on the horizon - Krista is representing us in them this year.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NPS Day 2

First things first. We won our first bout, and we were not up against slouch teams. Austin Neo Soul, Columbus Writers Block, and Pittsburgh Steel City Slam. I repeat: for the first time since it's been competing at the National Poetry Slam, Slam Free or Die took first place in a bout.

We decided to go big right off the bat. We were up second in the first round, following Writers Block. "Language (language)," our sign language team piece, made its national debut and rocked pretty hard. It wasn't the top scoring piece of the night, but it A) put us into first place by the end of the first round and B) caused a bunch of other poets to come up to Beau, Mckendy, and me after the bout and talk about how cool it was. I'm extremely proud.

Having established that we could put up intellectual poems, Mark changed things up for the second round and sent Krista up with "Scarecrow," a harrowing poem about a woman in an abusive relationship who (and here's the twist that makes it different than the many, many abusive relationship pieces you'll see in slam) is actually proud of the "attention" she receives. The audience got shivers, and Krista was actually tearing up by time she left the stage - that's how much she put into it. Quantitative result: we were still in first after the second round.

The general tone of the bout had been serious, and the third round proved no different. Beau took his turn and literally brought some members of the audience to tears with a choked-up rendition of "Kylie." When I say literally, I mean literally. There was even a poet who caught up with us later at the Encyclopedia Show, half an hour later, and told us that he'd been crying by the end of Beau's piece. Once again, we had maintained our lead as well.

Mckendy finished us off with his basketball/absent fathers poem. My apologies all around - I can't remember the title. He was alternately in awe and snarling, and the combination kept us in the lead by something like .3 points. I believe that .6 separated first from third at the end of the night, with Neo Soul in second and Writers Block in third. Mckendy built masterfully on the poem that preceded him, a racial call to arms, adding nuance and emotional levels to what the judges could see.

So there you go. I'm not quoting from people's poems, because my mind went kablooey as soon as we realized we'd won. It's a general description of our own efforts, but it's what I can do. For the first time in its NPS history, Slam Free or Die has taken a 1 spot. Wish us luck for Thursday night.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NPS Day 1

I can't complain about my drive. I left Martin on Sunday morning and, after some construction and a wrong turn, ended at my in-laws' in Waterloo, IA Sunday evening. I helped my father-in-law load a truck with a bunch of stuff (furniture, memory boxes, etc) he's bringing down to Kate while I'm at the National Poetry Slam. After spending the night, I finished off the 3-4 hour trip to St. Paul and waited for the rest of the team to arrive. The reason I can't complain is that I got to sleep. Everybody else drove the 26 hours from New Hampshire straight through.

Registration and orientation went smoothly. I met up with the Art Amok folks. Their fearless leader, Karen G, stuck with Slam Free or Die during most of the 24/7 fundraiser, so it was nice to meet her in person. There was first-night partying to be had, but Tim and I retired to the hotel room I'd booked away from the action. We've got two hotel rooms - one at the host hotel, intended to be at the center of everything, and one a couple miles away, intended to be the rest room. I'll be manning it (and sleeping soundly) while we're here.

Tonight is our first bout. It's a doozy. Columbus Writer's Block, Austin Neo Soul and Pittsburgh Steel City Slam. We're going into it with a lot of different possibilities for pieces, but everybody is ready to do any poem at any moment.

Afterwards/afterhours is the Encyclopedia Show, which nobody wants to miss. It'll be a late night, but should be a very good one.

Further reports tomorrow morning.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


It's fundraising time for Manchester. Most of the team will be driving from New Hampshire to St. Paul, MN. I'll be driving from Tennessee. Then we have a hotel room or rooms to pay for. Oh, and food. We like to eat. Not huge amounts, mind you, but enough that are voices are louder than our stomachs when we're on stage.

For those of you in Manchester/Portsmouth/etc. there will be activities and fundraisers and features and so forth. In fact, we're plotting a 7-day 24-hour reading. That is, every person on the team, including the coach and assistant coach, will read for 24 hours. Back to back. Seven days of poetry, with only 15 minute breaks every once in a while for bathrooms and food. I'll let you know more about that as plans come together.

In the meantime, we've got a PayPal account set up. If you'd be willing to donate something, even a dollar, that's one less dollar that comes out of our pockets while we're at Nationals. I'm devoted to my art and, for the duration of the competition, to the sport aspect of it, but I don't want to go hungry, I don't want to sleep in my car (with several other people), and I don't want to nervously watch my tank get emptier and emptier as I cross the great expanse of the rural Midwest, hoping that there's a gas station coming up soon and that my card will be accepted there. So, please, take a look. Toss us an amount you think worthwhile.

In fact, just to tempt you further, I'll re-post the link to Arts & Crafts, my free album of poems, essays, and conversations in both audio and video formats: If you like the kind of stuff you hear from me; if you want spoken word that plays with the boundaries of what spoken word can and should do, donate. If you don't like what you hear - hey, we've got a team with diverse voices. There's a good chance you'd be supporting somebody whose poetry you like. You want a sestina about Ol' Dirty Bastard from the Wu-Tang Clan? We've got it. You want a poem from a woman to the person who used to be her girlfriend, then was her boyfriend, and is now just a friend? We've got it. You want towering toasts to the everyday folks who could, if nobody was looking, be gods? We've got it. You want a poem about what would happen if the author had a talking hamster? We've got it. You want a piece in sign language, written for three people? We're working on it ;-)

Take a look. Take a listen. Take a chance (on me... yeah, now that song is stuck in your head). Help send us to NPS.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Manchester all the way

I slammed in the Providence finals the other night. It was a lot of fun. I ran with three experimental/original pieces, and the judges absolutely did not approve. After putting out the untitled piece where I walk out into the audience and make a metaphorical poem of myself, "Wooden Boys and Deadlier Toys," and "There will be no reinvention of the wheel," I came in last. I remain a poet's poet, however, in that I sparked a great deal of interest among the other performers as far as new possibilities for what we can do in a slam. A big congrats goes to Trevor Liam Byrne-Smith, Phil Kaye, Jamila Woods, and Kai Huang.

This leaves me solidly on Manchester's team, and I'm quite happy about it. I think I've got a good feel for what we can do as a team, and it's time to begin plotting team pieces. I have one in mind, but I need to consult with another poet (not on the team) about the vocabulary. I don't want to delve into the overdone sing-speak-sing method of presenting a poem, but I'm very curious about our rhythmic and musical possibilities as a group. Finally, we may take some of our existing poems and rework them (extensively in some cases) into group pieces. Nationals should be prepared for a Manchester that, at times, comes straight out of left field with things not quite seen before. No revolutions, but definite evolutions. It doesn't hurt that we've got a variety of voices on the team - some funny, some serious, some intricate, some straightforward. This will be an interesting Nats.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

No News Has Meant Good News

Two months. Quite a stretch. I can't honestly say I haven't been blogging during that time, as I've kept up with writing Geeking with the Wife for Team Covenant. However, my electronic poetry hat has been on the shelf.

Things you should know as I get back into this:

1. Kate got hired as an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee - Martin. This is very big news, and I'm incredibly proud of her. I'm picking up 2-3 classes as an adjunct and quite look forward to them. We're moving in early/mid July, with a house picked out and to be closed on in mid June. We're going to have a big yard again, which the dogs will love. We're both going to be teaching, which we will love.

2. The creative portion of my dissertation appears to have been satisfactory to all members of my committee. I'm now working, more slowly than I'd like but nonetheless deliberately, on the scholarly portion. The current realizations/fears - I'm writing about an aspect of several poets that I've never seen discussed. I can't find literature on it in their work, specifically. There's the first-level fear of the researcher, which is to wonder if I've just missed something, a conference paper, a dissertation, an interview. The second-level fear is that my committee will have a fit if I have extended tracts of my dissertation that are just me, a little bit of theoretical backing, and a whole lot of original analysis. Tradition has been stressed to this point, hence the worry.

3. I've thrown my hat into the slam ring once again, and most likely for the last time (due to the logistics - Martin is three hours from any major city). I've made the team from Manchester, NH, and I'm in the finals to qualify for the Providence, RI team on June 3. The semifinal bout in Providence was particularly skin-of-my-teeth. If you think you'd be interested in hearing about it, let me know. I can make it the topic of a post.