Chico is a cute little town in an expanse of nut groves. Taz, the organizer of the Chico slam, did the legwork to pack out the Chico Peace and Justice Center. The space felt like home, exactly the mix of woo-woo and militance that I’m used to: prayer flags flapped across the ceiling and a sliding scale zine table at the side of the room.
I was impressed by the performance chops of the slammers. While we were waiting for the spacd to open, we met a man who was there for his very first slam. He looked down and shuffled from foot to foot when I greeted him. On the mic, he delivered his work with conviction, and landed in third place.
We were also blessed with the only only queer-specific poem of our whole tour. Now, coming from Seattle, where queerness and poetry are synonymous, I was surprised by a lack of queer poems as we traveled down the coast. The poem started “dear mom and dad. . .” and was an unapologetic coming out poem from poet Daniel Smallwood. It was a real treat.
In so many ways, Chico was warm and welcoming. I look forward to going back on my next tour of the West Coast.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Casey Tonnelly, Chico, chico Peace and Justice Center, Chico Poetry Slam, Daniel Smallwood, performance poetry, poetry slam, spoken word, spoken word poetry, The Illustrious Fall Tour | Leave a Comment »
Berkeley slammaster Betsy Gomez and me
Coming from Seattle, where we take ourselves very seriously, the Berkeley slam was a fresh take on the playfulness of the slam. Sevan Boult hosted, and reminded everyone to turn off our “asshole alarms,” because if our phones went off, everyone would know we were assholes. The word of the day was homunculus, and throughout the night, poets substituted the word in their poems. In the second round, when the audience response was waning, Sevan punished the audience by reading us Suzanne Somers’ poetry. The spirit of the Berkeley slam reminds me that the slam is a gimmick to get people to listen to poetry, and it’s supposed to be fun!
Teaching Kevin Holmes to dance, getting photobombed
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Bay Area poetry, Berkeley Poetry Slam, BerkeleyPoetry, Betsy Gomez, Casey Tonnelly, Kevin Holmes, Oscar McNary, performance poetry, poetry, poetry slam, Sevan Boult, slam poetry, spoken word | Leave a Comment »
Sacramento Poetry Center organizer Emmanuel Sigauke and me
Sacramento is a sweet little town, the walnut-sized capitol controlling the Californian Brontosaurus All the roads meet at right angles. If you’re at the corner of N and 2nd, you know exactly how far you have to walk to get to Q and 10th. Before the show, I updated facespace at Naked Lounge, a hip cafe staffed by cockatoo-haired baristas.
The Sacramento Poetry Center kindly agreed to host a reading for Casey and me on very short notice. Before I arrived, I was a bit intimidated. I imagined the center as an arts mansion with floor to ceiling windows overlooking a grand estate filled. I planned more form poems for my set than usual, because I thought it would be closer to an academic poetry crowd.
In actuality, the center was nestled in an arts strip mall, a down to earth space about the size of a master bedroom. The audience was small but attentive. Local poet David Iribarne agreed on the spot to open the show with two deeply personal poems. Contrary to my fears, funny pieces and pop culture critiques went over well. I will definitely book the center the next time I tour the West Coast.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Casey Tonnelly, David Iribarne, Emmanuel Sigauke, performance poetry, poetry reading, Sacrament Poetry Center, Sacramento, spoken word, The Illustrious Fall Tour | 1 Comment »
me and Janae Million
A Solo cup in every hand, the audience was hyped at the Smashing Slam at a house in Santa Cruz. The back porch was the stage, with the audience cloaked in real or beer jackets to keep warm in the yard. I opened with my loudest poem, and the chatter cleared, giving way to rapt attention. After Casey and I performed, a two round slam with fifteen competitors lasted until well after midnight. After all that, I expected everyone to disperse, but much of the audience stuck around, trading poems, and listening. This was the show where I noticed a marked change in performance. The challenge of the loud crowd forced me to bring the energy up to where they were.
I owe this great experience to Janae Million, the organizer for the show. I met Janae when she traveled through Seattle, and happened to be staying at my house on a night of a poetry performance. I mentioned offhandedly that I didn’t have a show booked for Santa Cruz yet, and so Janae set up an entire slam, with opening band Copacetic, to bring us to town. The audience had an unparalleled amount of energy, and so many people talked to us after the show. Many thanks for the kindness and time and energy Janae and her housemates put into setting this up.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Casey Tonnelly, Janae Million, Oscar McNary, performance poetry, poetry slam, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Poetry Slam, Smashing Slam, spoken word, The Illustrious Fall Tour | Leave a Comment »
Poetry Center San Jose and San Jose State Poets and Writers Coalition graciously hosted Casey and me for our fourth stop on our tour. Our show was originally planned for the Spartan Memorial Chapel on the San Jose State University campus, but on the night of the performance, the organizers saw that it was sort of an out-of-the-way place, and asked a small coffee house, Philz Coffee if they could host us instead. They not only agreed; they set up a stage and a full PA system. The organizers’ resourcefulness in finding another performance space improved the impact of our work. The excess unoccupied space in the chapel probably would have distracted the audience, but the cozy cafe packed everyone in pretty close.
Most of the cafe’s patrons had not intended to hear a poetry reading that evening, but they were appreciative anyhow. The San Jose crowd showed us so much love, in coming up to talk to us and in buying our merch. We weren’t even the only performance poetry show in San Jose that evening. David Perez also had his Oversocial Mofo Revue that evening, of which we caught the end. San Jose has enough interest in poetry that it can muster substantial audiences for two shows at once. I will definitely go back.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Casey Tonnelly, Illustrious Fall Tour, Jasper Haze, Oscar McNary, performance poetry, poetry, Poetry Center San Jose, San Jose poetry, San Jose State Poets and Writers Coalition, San Jose State University, spoken word | Leave a Comment »
Glassless Minds organizer Rolland Tizuela and me
The love was palpable at the Glassless Minds show in Oceanside, CA, about forty minutes north of San Diego. Most of the poets and audience members showed up wearing Glassless Minds shirts and patches. The open mic was packed with talent, and Rolland Tizuela, the organizer and host, hugged each performer as they got up to speak. Rolland said that we were the first touring poets to come through, but the audience showed us so much love, like they knew how much touring artists need that kind of support.
Several fundraisers were going on at the show. One person was selling donated books to get to the AWP conference in Boston. I bought an amazing pop up book there. Another person was selling empanadas for a different fundraiser. After the show, there were so many hugs and handshakes. A woman approached Casey and me and offered us empanadas. She introduced herself as Rolland’s mom.
I recommend every touring poet stop by Oceanside for Glassless Minds to hear good poetry and experience this kind community.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Casey Tonnelly, Glassless Minds, Illustrious Fall Tour, Oceanside poetry, performance poetry, poetry, poetry tour, Rolland Tizuela, San Diego Poetry, spoken word, spoken word poetry | Leave a Comment »
Casey Tonnelly at LionLike Mindstate
Machine Pomona, the art and community space that houses the poetry night LionLike MindState, is situated in Pomona’s arts colony. Pomona is about forty minutes east of L.A. Judah 1 Poet is the main organizer for the space. He showed me around the neighborhood, and on our walk, there was hardly a person he didn’t know. Machine Pomona serves as a gallery and a shop for various local crafts. Additionally, there was a traditional capoeira music class right before the show, and the band played during the poetry show.
Although there were fewer than ten people in the audience, the reception was warm. From this venue and the surrounding community, I learned the utility of building connections among different art forms, from textiles to poetry. My favorite moment was when Judah began performing the LionLike MindState theme poem, and people from the crowd joined in.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Casey Tonnelly, Illustrious Fall Tour, Judah 1 Poet, LionLike MIndState, Machine Pomona, Oscar McNary, performance poetry, Pomona Arts Colony, spoken word | Leave a Comment »