Chamblee54

#NPS2016 Semi Finals

Posted in Library of Congress, Poem by chamblee54 on August 6, 2016

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When PG left the Decatur Library auditorium wednesday, he thought he was through with the National Poetry Slam. Too much anger. Too much shouting. Going home with a headache is not pleasant. Your right to be angry does not include my obligation to listen.

An email thursday changed that. “Hello All, We also have ten to twelve shifts to fill for Friday that are up for grabs! Please shout out if you can be one of those people :)” Maybe Wednesday afternoon was a fluke, and things would be better with another try. PG replied to the email. The next assignment was a semi-final bout on Friday night. The venue was a chapel at Agnes Scott College. This is the beautiful women’s college just south of downtown Decatur.

The event began like most volunteer NPS gigs. You show up on time, and wait for something to do. The email said something about keeping food out of the auditorium. PG wound up standing at the front door, welcoming people with badges and tickets, and directing those needing tickets to the sales lady. It was the loosest door PG has ever seen. It was basically honor system, and seemed to work pretty well. The chapel was about two thirds full.

The plan was for a few teams, who won the first round, were competing for the finals. People… either solo, in pairs, or in teams… performed the work. The pieces were memorized, not read. Judges gave a score. Somebody was keeping track of the points. At the end, a winner was announced.

When the subject matter got too heavy, PG would step back into the lobby, or go outside. It was not an endurance contest. Most of the first few performers talked about black anger. This is a constant topic at NPS, and the rest of America. PG is sympathetic up to a point. This is a sensitive issue. If listening to all this anger would produce good results, PG would cheerfully do so. Instead, PG just tries to remember that he is one of G-d’s children. These things too shall pass away.

The other hot subject was rape. The winner of the haiku tournament was a lady from Austin TX, Gloria B. She performed a piece about rape. There was a lot of fast, loud, angry talking. PG missed some of the qualifying details. What he did hear was at the end. This is not a verbatim quote. “Men, if you want to know what rape culture is, it is you.” While Gloria B might not have meant that…. that men were rape culture … that is the message the PG heard. When people are shouting, subtleties and nuance go out the window. What comes through is the message… YOU ARE RAPE CULTURE.

Gloria B, and a partner, had a piece later in the show. The two women shouted, both standing up and crouched over. The piece could be summed up by a haiku Gloria B did wednesday… again, this is not a verbatim quote… call me bitch and that gives me permission to show you what one is. The piece was extremely well received by the audience. As for confusing Gloria B with a lady dog ….

There were several rounds of competition. One man did a delicious piece about bacon. A team from Charlotte did a piece where a black man told a poem, and a white man danced. The black Charlotte man later performed a piece, that referenced some of the other performers. The piece acknowledged the anger that drives many of the poets, but also saw a need to move past this into something for the greater good. (This is way one volunteer usher heard it.) PG thought this was the best piece of the night.

The winners were announced. Neo Soul, from Austin TX, goes to the finals. This is Gloria B’s team. PG hung around the chapel for a while, until the late show crew took over. PG had a headache when he left. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. While looking for these pictures, PG found his annual post about Hiroshima. The first atomic bomb was dropped on Japanese civilians seventy one years ago today.

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One Response

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  1. Catalog Part Five | Chamblee54 said, on June 27, 2018 at 9:03 am

    […] to listen. I thought that was it for me, until I saw an email asking for more volunteers at the semi finals. The event was held on the beautiful Agnes Scott campus. As usual, there was not a lot to do, except […]


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