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friday, sept 14, 2001

can we really pull off a poetry show only 3 days after the worst act of terrorism ever to occur on our soil? gw the bushman had declared this day a national day of prayer & remembrance.. that right there screams out "spoken word" to me. plus I checked the slammasters list and saw that the nuyorican is going ahead with its planned schedule for the night. so I went ahead and put out the broadcast that we'd be slamming, and we'll just have to hope for the best, in terms of mood & spirit. we expected a light turnout, due to the large number of planned 7 pm candle-light vigils around the city.. and we did have a hard time getting our 5 judges lined up. by 7:30 start time, we had 7 poets signed up, but we unfortunately had to settle for a 3-judge slam. however, we had a fair-sized audience, albeit not the most respectful audience initially (lots of socializing going on all around us, but hey- this *is* hillcrest..) but the well-performed poetry pulled them in and quieted them down in time. judges tonight were former front-man for the punk band "Q" and host of the "tea & sodomy"-series readings: gabriel jacques ; budding novelist and first-time slam attendee libby; and local poet-who-hadn't-brought-any-poetry-with-him-tonight-thus-guaranteeing-him-judges-duty: jeff. yours truly sacrificed tonight. I was hoping to be sacrifice- I wanted to set a tone; I wanted to see how a nyc-tribute poem would sit with the judges during calibration. I read "little falling persons", written at work earlier in the day. it pulled down a 9 and two 7.3's- ouch. interestingly, we found out by the end of round 1 that folks wanted to laugh a little tonight; tonight humor ruled with both judge and audience. katherine katsanis was the first to score high with humor with her piece "have you ever thought of writing this?" jay perez, who placed 2nd not that many slams ago, cooked us up some "assimilation nation". We were pleased to welcome three first-time san diego slammers in the house tonight: john h told us he's slammed *the* green mill before! and can now add the urban grind to his resume; and from team san francisco 2001, and coming in third tonight, emily kagan, now a san diego resident, can I get an amen on that?! oh yeah, this woman's poetry is buzz-worthy, make no mistake about it.. not only was her team s.f. a finalist in this year's natl poetry slam in seattle, but she also edited the "birth of verse" poetry anthology; so welcome emily to our great city when you see her- she'll be featured at readings all around socal over the next few months. now then, 2-cool-2-B-believed tonight, as it was her 2nd visit to our fair slam, plus she came in 2nd (and took $13.75 home in her hot little hands), was flo somerville, crowd-pleasin’ mama that her is! and in 1st-place, at her 1st-ever san diego slam, (cuz she moved away to sacramento before we even had a slam here) was favorite-son (or is that daughter?!) and author of the laugh-a-minute chapbook “sloppy wet kisses goodbye”, angela boyce, last seen stuffing a hard-earned $34 into her wallet.. congrats, angela- hope that helped get you back to sacramento.. come back soon- y'know we'll love you forever down here in your hometown!

sunday, sept 30, 2001

so I’m heading over to the urban grind about sunset to set up the room for tonight’s slam, and did you see it, that strange sky going on above? I know there’s that hurricane juliette making its way up the baja peninsula.. but this was directly above hillcrest. ok, suddenly the wind picks up, seemingly out of nowhere; there’s gray ragged clouds swirling, an obviously cyclonic spin to the whole dark cloudmass: for a second or two I swear it looked like a big ol’ tornado was gonna drop right down onto park blvd- take the crypt, take the flame, hell- you can even take the dog grooming place- just don’t take the urban grind, ma- not tonight, I prayed. yeah, I was addressing mother nature herself, of course. see, we got a slam going on tonight, and well- do you have any idea just how hard it is to find a venue this perfect, this muy chingon, this freakin' cool?! anyway, the only thing from the sky to materialize on this night was the perfect cloudpastelsunset I hope y'all got to witness before jumping in your cars to get to hillcrest.. back inside the urban grind, a fine crowd of folks began assembling for the slam.. matthias erne and his wife were first in; matthias is writing an article on poetry slam for the in-flight "swissair" magazine.. we'll try and get a reprint of that article up on this website once it is published, if that's ok with you, matt. we started signing up judges for tonight as soon as possible, to avoid having to settle for another 3-judge slam, like last time.. once a year is more than enough, thank you. tossing out high and low scores is just too critical to ensuring the fairest slam possible, but then- you already know all this.. so tonight's judges were j. godley aka
king fresno; sd slam first-timers jen, also tom; local poet stony, and all the way from las vegas, nv- my friend of 15 years, poet kenneth wanamaker.. we were all in for a special treat, as long-time slam attendee glenda, was sacrifice (or, if you prefer, calibration poet) tonight.. this was her first time ever reading at the slam.. she gave us a fascinating short history of immigrant-contribution in this country, called "the americans", and which went over the 3:10 time limit a little- by 2 mins, 15 secs.. however, this enabled us to put our score-deduction abilities to the test. we subtracted a half-point for every 10 seconds she went over; thus her 25.1 score became an 18.1 but she was fine with it all cuz she just wanted to get her poem out to a larger audience.. thanks glenda for the poem, and for allowing us the opportunity to talk about time limits.. oh yeah, this was also the night we got to introduce our rockin' co-emcee with these seldom-heard words: "ladies & gentlemen, SDMA (san diego music awards) nominee for best local recording, our own lizzie wann.. really- it's true! lizzie pointed out to us all that urban grind barrista drew is also up for an SDMA award! all this amazing talent, huh- good goddam! so, first up tonight was katheryn, who won herself a coupla slams last year when we were still over at the rendezvous; it was good hearing her voice again! unfortunately, she was called away before second round so we didn't get to hear but one piece from her tonight, but she'll be back, no doubt. first-time at the sd slam tonight was elena mulroney; hope to see her back up at the mic again soon.. veteran slammers tonight included billiekai, matt weatherman, jay perez, joe stein, christina and chris vannoy, who was 4th tonight in ranking with a 57.3, and in 3rd place, with a 57.6 cumulative, was vejea, who free-styled in the second round.. in second place, with a 58.36 cumulative, and taking home $25, was SD first-timer jonathan pollard and no he's not the spy- (wouldn't that be one helluva career change..) they just share the same name.. and in 1st place, with a 58.9 score, and stuffing 50 big bucks! into his back pocket- geoff neill.. and let me tell you, this guy worked damn hard for that 1st-place finish.. you shoulda seen the sweat coming offa his brow, looked like james brown for a split second, especially when he went off-mic and raged his way up to the front of the house.. thanks for giving us a great show, all of you.. thanks ken, stony & k. fresno for the half-time entertainment; thanks again glenda for the sacrifice; thanks to our 2nd round score-keeper as well, whose name I forgot.. it sure was good seeing jihmye collins among us tonight- come back when you can, man.. and always I gotta say- thanks to lizzie, for everything you do..

Next slam is friday, oct 12- hope to see you there!

your slammaster
and faithful servant,

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