by Em, photos by Justin Schell
After a several month sabbatical from the poetry slam, I returned to Kieran’s Irish Pub for what promised to be a great night of poetry. Little did I know, I was in for an epic evening of some of the best poetry this small town Iowa gal has ever seen, battle royale style.
The slam was kicked off in round one by Syd Malicious going head to head with Thadra Sheridan. Syd’s stunning and powerful poem about what it is like to be forced into womanhood left my ears ringing with poignant lines like the one about how she only feels beautiful with her head shaved. To follow, Thadra gave us a glimpse into the psyche of a waitress that made me both laugh hysterically and feel the need to tip my server more. In the end, Thadra’s well-timed comedy took the bout.
Next up was Neil Hilborn with a persona piece told in the voice of road kill about their vendetta against people who drive cars. As hysterical as this piece was, I must say I have actually been hit by more animals than I have ever hit, so I lack sympathy for the creatures who may one day rise up against us. As much as Neil had us all rolling, Sam Cook had the first K.O. of the night with a masterful poem that had the audience on the edge of their seats. The line “If home is wherever people know your stories, there is just too much highway in ours” still gives me the heebee geebees.
The evening was off to an emotional start. I laughed, cried, gasped, and sighed all within the first ten minutes of performances. The rollercoaster was not about to stop anytime soon. Jade Metzger’s ode to her father was spirited and heartfelt. Chadword’s raw and emotional poem about being his brother’s keeper had such a sweetness about it. Michael Lee painted some beautiful images about making connections through music and he performed with such tender restraint. Inky presented a stunning persona piece as majestic as the woman she portrayed. On the other end of the spectrum, Becky Dawn Jo Bob Sue’s simple yet sophisticated Dr. Suess style jab at Sarah Palin gave me the giggles. A bit later, Alice’s campaign for female masturbation had everyone giggling a bit uncomfortably. But really isn’t that what poetry is all about? One poem that really stuck out to me tonight was by the Reverend Pat D. I have come to the conclusion that his style is undoubtedly an acquired taste and after this performance I was a connoisseur.
The last few matches in the first round took a more serious turn with Dylan and Lily. The combination of Dylan’s captivating voice and images always make for a well-crafted and powerful poem. However; Lily’s heartfelt recollection of a grandparent’s death had the audience wanting more.
The first round was finished off in a match-up between Ezra and Sparrow. Ezra’s confessional piece taught us all why he is definitely “not a role model,” and even more about how to drink whisky: copiously. Although Sparrow had some great lines, like “Dignity is a matter of perspective,” it would still be Ezra moving on to the next round.
After the first round of performances I was exhausted but excited to see more of what these incredible poets had to offer. I was not disappointed. Thadra Sheridan brought more comedy to the stage commenting on society’s need for immediate gratification and fame at any cost. “Babe Ruth is reality,” she says. Michael Lee followed with an intense moment at a bus stop. Sam Cook gave a magnificent performance about being the weird kid in first grade with a shout out to his teacher and all those like her. Ezra was haunting, pulling images from Peter Pan. For his second poem, Colin went the funny route in delivering a speech to his 17-year-old younger sister declaring not even Mahatma Gandhi is good enough for her. Jade Metzger continued to solidify herself as a feisty performer and her second poem packed just as much punch as the first. Chadword told us all why he no longer does sex poems in public, but ladies, if you ever want a private performance I hear he is single. Lily finished off the second round with an unapologetic piece proclaiming, “I am here and I am queer.”
The top four poets of the evening were Michael Lee, Sam Cook, Jade Metzger, and Lily. To determine the Victory Lap poet Jade and Lily faced off in an intense game of rock-paper-scissors in which Jades scissors slashed Lily’s paper (never pick paper). Jade ended the night with a lighter side on the topic of online dating.
Overall, it was an evening that made me unbelievably proud to be a part of the Minnesota slam scene. The slam, along with guest artists like musician Tyrus A, Riley Lang, and a special performance by Wonder Dave himself, was the best I’ve seen since I moved here a year ago. My prediction is that it will just keep getting better and better.
Peace, love, and poetry,
Should you want to guest blog a spoken word event for Minnesota Microphone, please please contact me! -Cole