It’s been a while since I judged a slam (publicly, at least!), especially at 13 where I know several of the regulars personally, so I was surprised when Lynne asked me to judge last night’s open slam. I was happy to do it as a critical listening exercise, though, because I think my ears have become much less sharp ever since I launched Spindle, and my focus has shifted to the page.
Way back in the day, I used to believe in never giving anyone less than 7 points for their work, respecting the effort it takes to simply get on stage and perform in front of an audience, but that floor dropped to 5 points last night for a terrible rhyming poem in the first round. Overall, it was a solid slam with no real standout performances and my scores were almost always the lowest or second lowest of the night with one surprising exception.
I wrote notes on each of my scores and here’s some of my favorites:
Score: 7.5; Good lines looking for an original poem.
Score: 8.0; Too affected; poetry voice. Image overload; all icing, no cake.
Score: 8.0; Slow down! Let people digest the words. Some good lines not allowed to breathe. Didactic tone throughout; where’s the personal connection?
Score: 8.0; Too many images; good ones, but lacking any grounding.
Score: 6.5; Loud and fast, again! (Guess it worked in the first round, though.) Self-referential braggadocio is boring without any introspection or insight. Oooo…introspection shows up too late, too loud, too fast. PS: The other 4 judges obviously aren’t writers.
Score: 7.5; Please stop with the affected preacher/poet voice. Fuck! PS: Truth can, and should, be edited sometimes.
Score: 7.0; Dear poets: Metaphors are to poetry as exposition is to fiction. On their own, it is tired and not nearly enough. PS: Love poems are hard.
Score: 9.2; An old poem that hasn’t gotten “old” yet. For me. “Men disguised as getaway cars.” Nice. PS: How did I end up giving the 2nd highest score?!?! WTF?
Score: 8.5; Surface personal doesn’t dig nearly as deep as [previous poem]. Not a bad poem, but not a third round, nail it to the wall poem, either.