Last night I went to check out "Da Poetry Lounge" in Hollywood at the Greencourt Theater on Fairfax. I'd been researching it quite a bit and was looking forward to going. It's Shihan's venue and I like Shihan, but I knew it was going to obviously be West Coast slam and was college/high school kid heavy. I went alone and ended up in line by a girl and a guy who rode up on bikes so I talked to them and they were both cool UCLA kids and we sat together during the show.
The venue has limited seating - it's like a mini-theater and once all of the audience seats are filled, everyone else has to sit on stage. There are also two halves to the three hour show so a huge line of people wait outside for their chance to get in the second half. I was just planning on reading for the open mic but the first half was a slam so I put my name in at the last minute.
There were about ten poets in the Slam and all of us were high school or college aged - three white, seven black, three girls, seven guys - mostly bad hip hop/Def Jam style stuff. One girl was really great- really powerful in both her stage presence and writing. They pull names at random from a bucket and surprisingly score creep wasn't really an issue in the slam and everyone was really vocal and open about scores (in the sense that people booed high scores for bad poems). The second round would be 4 poets and third round 2 poets.
I got pulled last in the first round and I knew I was going to open with Elbows. Nobody said anything or reacted or made any noise whatsoever while I was performing... I thought I was just bombing so hard. You could hear a pin drop. When I finished I got the first 10 of the night and the two kids I was sitting with were FREAKING OUT -- one of them leaned over and said "I'm so glad you don't suck, that would have been so awkward."
There was a sorbet poet and as I had the highest score I went first in the second round. I did Carburetors and simply prefaced it with "I wrote this about a party I went to once." Which I think definitely helped. The performance felt good and I got two tens.
I wasn't expecting much but I ended up in the final round with this kid who was pretty decent. Coin toss elected me to go first and I went up with Open Letter To The Last Person I Will Ever Love - which is my most recent performance piece and somewhat on page (it's almost completely memorized). Though I got another ten and high scores, I was pretty positive that I had lost because the other kid did a very political piece that the audience really liked and scored really well.
The prize was $100 -- and Shihan had the audience vote on the winner getting the whole $100 or splitting it with second place, $75-$25. I voted for the second and ended up screwing myself out of $25 haha.
It was totally unexpected and cool and a bit like walking into a saloon and being the new gun in town. A ton of people talked to me and kept asking "Where the fuck are you from?!" and I was like "BOSTON" and then this one guy goes "Ahhhhh Cantab!! Now I get you."
Which was perfect.
I did get told I reminded a lot of people of Buddy Wakefield. HA.
We got food at a 24/7 weird chic DJed restaurant bar. I got oatmeal. It was delicious.
It felt so incredible to perform in an entirely new place for all of these new people and be the complete opposite of what everyone else was performing ... and have people like my work.