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.

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