In this world of billions it’s hard to feel like your small voice will ever be heard, but when a group of friends, who have been shouting from the soapbox in your own backyard make a national impression it’s down right inspirational! After the St. Paul Slam Team’s triumphant victory at Nationals, poets from all over the twin cities pulled their noses up from the page, peeled their eyes away from the screen, and decided to seek out the stage. Half the crowd at the St. Paul Soapboxing season opener reeked like poets, and only ten of them were lucky enough to get pulled from the bag. As a frequent member of the audience, I am happy to report that almost everything I heard was new to my ears.
The lovely Loca L started the night out with a piece about an unseemly, sexually charged relationship between strangers. Or was it siblings? I’ve never seen her perform before, and after the first time I’m itching for more.
For the first time in my life, Wonder Dave made me wish I’d spent my teenage years locked in a basement with a bunch of four-eyed D&D nerds. Wait, maybe I did, but it wasn’t high school. It was college, and it wasn’t D&D. It was Magic the Gathering. With his first piece, WD filled the room with naughty giggles. He wanted us all to know that 20 sided dice and Princess Leia buns are the attributes of the far superior lover. He also did a piece about the kind of sexual experience that reminds us all how mind blowing it is to stretch boundaries. His poem told the story of his encounter with a boy that loves girls that love boys that used to be. . .or are. . .oh wow!
Dylan, one of the true masters of metaphor in the slam, brought back tried and true favorites that dominated the stage. Hard work, Nationals, and Mcloving have clearly transformed and invigorated his performance. At the end of the night, Dylan took second place.
Somehow, I’ve never had the privilege to see Hannah Cushing perform before. Both of her pieces reminded us how difficult it is to be young in a world that has left its youth by the wayside to be trampled under negligent feet. Her first piece, addressed to “the man who helped create my neice”, may have been directed towards the slime bag that abandon a young mother, but really came across as a powerful reminder of the bravery it takes to give life when yours has barely started yet. Her second piece was one of my favorites of the night. Hannah humbled us all with anecdotes about children who have grown up in a world often too frightening and monstrous to understand.
Hieu, another poet that I had never seen perform before, shared two pieces about young women in his life. His first poem was a touching reminiscence about young love. His second was addressed to an adopted young woman. I enjoyed his unique voice, and can’t wait to see more.
Sierra whispered naughty details in my ear about making love on the day of the apocalypse, held me hand as she led me down the wounded hallways of a high school crush gone horribly wrong, and reminded me that the faithful and the faithless fight the same battles. Sierra finished out the night in third place.
Khary answered the question that has been on all of our minds as of late. What in the world is going to happen in 2012?! According to Khary the world will be taken over by mushroom clouds, boy scouts, and flying zombies with laser eyes! All I know is my credit card is going to expire in 2012. With his last poem about Eva Braun, Khary reminded us that empathy is just as important as any of the more typical emotions, such as anger, to understand tragedy. He also proved he can win even when adopting the voice of Hitler’s wife.
All in all, it was a great season opener. This slam season promises to be an action-packed, fun filled year for St. Paul.