THE LIT SLAM: gypsee yo

[ Mon Apr 16 12]

Tatyana Brown hosted the fourth installment of the monthly series The Lit Slam, held every third Monday at Viracocha, with feature Gypsee Yo. Read more about the show here, but know that essentially it’s a poetry slam: three rounds, the first of which has 8 poets reading/performing 1-minute poems, the second round is 6 poets reading 2-minute poems, and the third round is 4 poets reading 3-minute poems. But a lot of the readings spilled into the prose zone, which is not something you usually see in a slam, right? And The Lit Slam has a feature each month; at the end of the year, they are going to publish a book with Bicycle Comics that includes all three poems from each show’s winner and one poem from each poet voted second place … plus, an audience-curated “best poem of the night” component to the website, called “The Teaser”. The name of the print journal will be determined by the audience over the next few months.

Yes, an audience-curated literary journal. Each show also has an invitational judge—I was this month’s judge—which consists of scoring each poem, in about 10 seconds, from 1-10. Five members of the audience who were not affiliated with any of the poets who signed up were randomly chosen as the other judges (and, thus, editors of the literary journal), and our scores were averaged to determine who would advance to the next round. Because there were only 5 people signed up, the first and second round both had 5 slots.

Tatyana started the night off with a sacrifice—that’s when someone sets the barometer, so to speak, from which to compare scores—and Nic Alea provided that service to begin the final round (after an intermission, after Gypsee Yo’s remarkable “teaser”—a poem she did between the second round and an intermission), for which Gypsee did a full set of all-new poems. It’s not often you see someone do poems and you think, that person is world-class. Truly!

The Lit Slam is one of the best ideas for a show I know about. I’m interested to see how it develops. I’ll also say this: don’t let the ‘slam’ moniker deter you, guys. Tatyana and I were amongst the 20-25 people at the Poets & Writers roundtable event this past Thursday, and we all talked about writing as competition. Some people got confused about the difference between writing (not innately competitive) and publishing (cutthroat). Some poets there said there are a lot of writers who are shy and would never subject themselves to that kind of environment, but the crowd is actually one of the warmest you’re likely to experience because they interact and are intent on adding energy to the show for the good of the room. No one wants to denigrate anyone! The point of the slam atmosphere, I think, is to get people to respond to the work more; to foster more of a give and take around the poems.

I think I might try my hand at 1-, 2-, and 3-minute pieces the next time around: Monday, May 21st. See you there, I hope, but for now here’s an index of the videos:

  1. Introduction
  2. Round 1
  3. Round 2
  4. 4-9: Gypsee Yo (#6 she reads Luljeta Lleshanaku)
  5. Nic Alea
  6. Round 3/outro

Above is the entire evening. Click “Play” to watch all, “Next” to skip forward, or the small “Playlist” screen (to the right of the video time) to see thumbnails and watch them directly.