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Nitty Gritty Slam#24, August 21

So with a little help from arithmetic one could determine that, if this event is held twice a month, #24 would mark the end of a year of slams, & indeed it was, & it also marked the (not quite triumphant, but undaunted) return of the Nitty Gritty Slam team from the Slam Nationals. Tonight was a special invitational event with all the past year’s Slam winners invited to compete in tonight’s Slam. The rest of us relegated to the open mic.

& what an open mic it was, with regulars, old-timers & virgins & newbees, with Slam coach Mojavi (without his coach’s whistle) as the host. Elizag was first up with a recitation of William Butler Yeats’ “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” channeling the famous recording of Yeats hisself. Carri LaCroix Pan was back again with a waltzing piece I think was about dancing as much as it was about anything else. Since the open mic didn’t have time limit of the Slam I was able to do a rare reading (outside of a peace rally) of my poem of “Baghdad/Albany.” Mojavi pulled a page from his teaching experience with a portrait of a boisterous, rebellious young student, then introduced the next reader as “Funk Master Nest,” Professor Daniel Nester, who read a found poem culled from comments on a Blog, “Dogs in Halloween Costumes,” probably the easiest poem in the World to write.

The poet Treasure performed a poem titled “Complicated” which itself was in simple short hip-hop lines & rhymes. Mojavi introduced Poetic Visionz as “the Pastor of Positivity,” & indeed his poem on truth & lies certainly was. Algorhythm did another piece (see my earlier Blog about the open mic in Troy, July 27) in both Japanese & English, a commentary on clashes of culture. ILLiptical did a series of his joking haikus, many involving cartoon characters.

Billy, who hasn’t been out to a reading in a while, read the poem/musings he just wrote at the bar after hearing me read, his poem mixing peace workers & college girls. This was Empress‘ first time here & she read a piece based on her experience modeling, “Camera,” as some of us took even more pictures of her. Emily Gonzalez closed out the open mic portion with the artfully simple poem “Grandson.”

el presidente, Thom Francis, was the night’s Slam Master, with Treasure back to the mic as the “sacrificial lamb.” Although there were other past winners in the audience, just 5 (Elizag, ILLiptical, Kevin Peterson, Shannon Shoemaker & Poetic Visionz) competed in the Slam. Kevin was knocked out after the first round, & ILLiptical & Poetic Visionz ended up it battling out in the final round, with ILLiptical the winner of Nitty Gritty Slam #24. Algorhythm, who was on the team in the Nationals competition, was called back up to end the night with a piece for his family & friends who had packed the audience.

It’s quite an achievement to fill a whole year, twice a month at Valentines, with Slam poetry & a genuinely fabulous open mic. It looks like it’s on to year 2 — the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month at Valentine’s on New Scotland Ave. in Albany, NY — check it out on AlbanyPoets.com.

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