Happy Halloween, everyone! Big thanks to all who came out to celebrate with us this year at the Dead Poets’ Slam. Our open mic was full of a great mix of live poets doing their own work, live poets doing dead poets’ work, and live poets covering each other. Neat! We enjoyed a few costumes and a bunch of great covers, but everyone was waiting excitedly for the night’s feature: four teams of poets performing in character for a Halloween slamstravaganza!
The show kicked off with two bonus sacrificial poets: Meaghan Ford read from Elizabeth Bishop, then Zeke Russell channeled Warren Zevon to give the crowd a sense of the range they’d be seeing for the slam. An exceptionally harsh team of judges –many of whom volunteered to put the smackdown on some dead poets– started the night by leaving a lot of room at the top for the next readers! The opening poets wasted no time putting together big performances for the judges, though: Team Choler’s Adrienne Rich (played by Melissa Newman-Evans) started off by Diving into the Wreck with just a little help from the page, followed by Team Melancholy’s Deborah Digges (Richard Cambridge) going fully off-page and Team Phglematic’s Walt Whitman (Douglas Bishop, natch) working the room like any modern slammer! Team Sanguine’s Pablo Neruda (Nate Leland) closed out with a gratifyingly long piece, and slam was off to a tight start with the Phlegmatics in the lead.
Round two saw a snarky rejoinder to True Love from Wislawska Szymborska (Nora Meiners), a powerfully deconstructed melange of poems from a leather-clad Kathy Acker (April Penn), and rambling and well-read missive from Jack Kerouac (Jack Skiranos). Oscar Wilde (Jade Sylvan), dressed to the nines, closed out the round with the high score, but Acker’s strong effort combined with Rich’s score from the first round served to put Team Choler on top at the halfway point of the slam.
Round three started strong– and weird– with Shel Silverstein (Nate Comstock) taking the high score of the round with the tale of The Bagpipe Who Didn’t Say No. Lynda Hull (Sophia Holtz) introduced herself with Hollywood Jazz, and Charles Bukowski (Sue Savoy) rocked the house with a rambunctious and rude story of… writers’ block, we guess. Sylvia Plath (Brenna Kleiman) finished up the round by eating men like air, which was enough to keep Team Choler in the lead with the Melancholics just behind.
Some of our team’s strategists had obviously been working overtime for round four: Team Melancholy kicked in the door of the final round with a bang when an all-white-clad Emily Dickinson (Tom Daley) took the stage to wild applause: Dickinson would garner the top score of the night, despite a strong effort from Allen Ginsberg (Alexander Nemser), perhaps the most in-character poet of the night! Federico Garcia Lorca (Cassandra de Alba) closed out for Team Choler with a sleep of apples, and Samuel Beckett (Charlie R) presented the only bilingual piece of the night to close out the slam.
When all was said and done, Team Melancholy had come from behind to take the win! Team Choler took second, with Teams Sanguine and Phlegmatic falling in third and fourth. It was an exceptional night at the slam and good fun for all: if you missed it, well, you’ll just have to wait until next Halloween.
Next week: we’re back to our usual open mic, feature, and open 8×8 slam format. This week’s feature will be Southern poet G Yamazawa. See you there!