Thursday, June 20, 2013

Southwest Shootout Poetry Slam competition at the Kimo

Watching poets being treated like rock stars for 3 solid hours -- complete with roadies, screaming fans, photo ops and girls wanting autographs -- was quite delightful. And inspirational!

The Southwest Shootout is part of a regional competition for slam poetry -- where words mashup with performance art -- but for this slam newbie it was tremendous fun. By luck, I was chosen as one of five audience judges for the first round of competition, the individuals round.

Even if you're not judging, you're still participating in an interactive show like this, where the audience is encouraged to voice their opinions to the judges, and to the poets, by clapping, cheering, snapping, grunting, hissing and yes, booing (booing the judges scores only, never the poets...kinda like "Idol"). With a "Rocky Horror" like audience participation, slam poetry is accredited as being invented by Marc Smith ("So what?!") in 1984 at an open mic night. Damien Flores and Hakim Bellamy, Albuquerque's first poet laureate, were the emcees for the event last Saturday at the Kimo Theatre.

Poets from states all around our region traveled to compete, and in a group of a dozen, the winner of the individual challenge round was Desiree Dallagiacomo. Her work, "Factory Defect," about her father's schizophrenic emotional disconnection spoke in bleak images, counting the number of pills that would keep him alive, functioning.

Desiree returned again, performing in the group round as well, representing her troupe The Revengers, based out of New Orleans. "I like being alone / It's just / I hate leaving," she exclaimed, and the crowd responded enthusiastically.
Another exceptional poet of the evening was Melissa May Dunn, who traveled from out of state as well to compete at the event. Melissa's work spoke to me deeply, and I found myself holding back sobs during her individuals round competition, where she spoke of the teasing words of children, words that not only weren't forgotten in childhood, but have become emblazoned into the legacy of work. Melissa also returned to perform solo for her troupe, the Iron Vaginas, in the group competition round, performing another piece I loved, "10 Commandments from one who has walked away from religion."

For more slam poetry events, check out to get inspired, use your words, and proclaim your truths from behind the microphone... or to cheer on those who are willing to bare their souls for the mike in return.

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