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Posts Tagged ‘The Illustrious Fall Tour’

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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