by Dylan Garity, photos by Justin Schell
Last year at this time, I had just started to become involved in the Twin Cities slam scene. I unfortunately missed the WOWPS slam then, either because I didn’t hear about it or didn’t yet realize how awesome it would be, so I was happy to get a chance to go this year. At first, it seemed like the crowd would be pretty low-key, but as 8:00 approached the room gradually began to fill up.
As the crowd trickled in, Aimee Renaud entertained us with music. She performed a set on ukelele that consisted mostly of awesome covers, but a couple of really awesome original pieces as well, one of which left me craving a sandwich. Yay Aimee!
Then Dave went up to do his host-y stuff, which was apparently a last minute change of plans as Laura Yes Yes was sick. Dave announced the rules of the pre-slam Man-Ku battle (head to head bouts, judged by applause), and then began picking names out of his hat. There were ten competitors in the Man-Ku battle, and the first bout matched up Ezra and Laura. Ezra took it easily with a well-crafted piece about blow jobs.
The next faceoff was between Andy and Jackie. Andy’s self-deprecating piece about gender priveleges proved more applause-worthy, and he advanced to the next round.
The third head-to-head pitted the first female Man-Ku-er, Lindsey, against Oliver. Apparently Lindsey’s haiku was the most manly because she easily took the bout.
Next we saw Rob face off against Neil. Rob performed his classically tasteless yet hilarious haiku about the South, whereas Neil talked about his penis. In the end, the audience judged that The South > Neil’s penis. Rob lifted the slam baby in triumph.
The final bout of the first round was between Miles and Jason, and Miles took it with a haiku about chubby boy, thighs, and peanut butter. On to round two!
Since five Man-Ku-ers made it to the second round, Dave decided to have a head to head and then a three-way faceoff. The head-to-head pitted Miles against Ezra, and Ezra’s haiku about squirting earned groans but heavy applause, propelling him to the final round.
The threeway match between Rob, Andy, and Lindsey ended with a solid victory for Lindsey, and the surviving competitors moved on to a best-of-three final round.
Ezra took the first round easily, but Lindsey crushed him in the next two, winning the night with this final gem of a Man-Ku:
“When I’m shopping for
groceries, I always use
a cart. For my balls”
Congratulations Lindsey! Then it was time for the main event…
Since the winner of the night would be representing Minneapolis at WOWPS, the slam was run in WOWPS style: four rounds with different time limits. After complaining more about how he wasn’t supposed to host, Dave went up and sacrificed for the one-minute round. With the audience suitably warmed up, the competition began.
Lily had the unfortunate luck of being drawn first, but performed well anyway, ending with a beautiful and surreal line about emerging from her own womb. 21.3
Inky followed her with an energetic and confident performance of Cinderella. She was rewarded with a 24.8.
Kaylee went up next, and though she seemed nervous for the first half of her poem, she ended strong and received a 24.7
Syd performed a dense and beautiful piece about Darwin, which included one of the lines that stuck with me throughout the rest of the night: “I think we’ve forgotten how hard it must have been to kill a God for the first time.” 24.8
Jade followed Syd with a solid piece, but it seemed short even for the one-minute round and the judges seemed to be left wanting more. 24.4
Cynthia closed the round with the first comedic piece of the night, a poem about bubble bath and zombies, and the judges rewarded her with laughter and a 27.9.
The second round (four minutes) pitted all six poets against each other again in order from highest score to lowest. This meant Cynthia had the unfortunate task of following herself, but she went in with confidence and managed it well. The scores remained relatively steady through Syd, Inky, and Kaylee’s poems, and then Jade took the high score of the round with an emotional piece about her father. Lily closed off the round, but couldn’t top Jade’s score and ended up being cut, along with Inky, for the final two rounds.
Though Cynthia had a solid lead after the first half of the competition, Dave did a clean slate for the two-minute and three-minute rounds. The four remaining poets started fresh, and with a random draw. In the two-minute round, Syd went up first, performing a piece about homesickness. Jade followed with a loud and intense poem about her brother. Cynthia went third with Frank the Foot Fetishist, and was rewarded for comedy once again with a huge score bump. Kaylee went last in the round, performing a poem from the perspective of a burrito, which contained another of the more memorable lines of the night for me: “My tortilla cannot soak up your tears.”
Dave played some appropriate music, and then drove straight into the three-minute final round, which was again randomly drawn. Kaylee went up first, followed by Jade, who read off paper. Cynthia went third and took the highest score yet with an impassioned performance of Bowling, which solidly put her in first place for the night. Syd closed off the slam with one of the best performances I’ve seen from her on Birch Trees, bolstered by EZ’s cheers, and ended up getting second in the slam.
After Dave announced the winners, Cynthia went up and performed an encore piece by (and in honor of) Gabrielle Boulliane, a long-standing member of the national slam community who recently died after a long bout with cancer. It was a beautiful poem, and Cynthia did it justice. It was a heartfelt and fitting end to the night, and left me wishing that I could make it out to the actual WOWPS competition in March in Ohio. Congrats to Cynthia for earning her spot there, and for more information on that event, check out http://wow.poetryslam.com/.
In other news, I’d like to take this chance to invite you to the first all-women’s slam in the twin cities, at the end of the month. Click here for the invite. More details forthcoming. -Cole