Overland Overloaded’s Karen Andrews weathered poets drenching each other in beer, blinding each other with hairspray and waxing violent and lyrical about the ‘land of the oongolie doongolies’ and left the Overload Slam Final last night oddly inspired:
“I want a poem that takes you on a journey…”
“I want a poem that plays Russian roulette with life…”
These are the words of Vicki Thornton, one of the finalists of the Overload Poetry Slam last night. I was among the enthusiastic and unwearied crowd (we began late) at Dante`s, gathered to be entertained and taken to different places and perspectives.
The poetry was wide in tone and delivery, but there were a few common themes: the compromising, scary and negotiate path of parenthood and a post-September 11 society. There were moments of pure delight, one for me being Michael Reynolds’ poem about the oftentimes preposterous naming of paint colours, something I’ve often felt was begging to be done. Other times I laughed until I had tears in my eyes (“In the land of the oongolie-doongolies…”)
One thing that took me a while to understand was the defiantly and – I daresay – proudly arbitrary means of judging the competition. How was the invitation to “love the poet, but hate the poem?” a surefire way of determining if the correct contestants win or make a place? But I am speaking as a newcomer, and am probably unaware that in the great Slam cosmos, things do ultimately work out for the best. For example, I think Benjamin Theolonius Sanders was a deserving winner last night.
If I may repeat a truism, it is this: if the language, the art, and passion live within you, it will emerge defiant and pure. It will defy any consternated audience. You will speak your words even while having beer poured over your head or hairspray sprayed in your face. I find this tremendously motivating and inspiring.
As I type this Benjamin, Michael, and Randall will probably be getting ready for their Skype Slam Final against the Bristol Poetry Festival and I wish them all the best of luck.
Photograph of IQ (Benjamin Theolonius Sanders) by Michael Reynolds. Simonne Michelle-Wells will be reviewing the Overload v Bristol Skype slam.