Friday, November 7, 2008

Wordstock: Poetry Slam at the Bagdad (11-06-08)

Wordstock, the annual fun book event in Portland, started on Thursday with a Poetry Slam at the Bagdad Theater, which I attended as a volunteered. This was a perfect opportunity: I had never been to a Poetry Slam before and I wanted to do something in conjunction with Wordstock.
I helped set program booklets and pencils on tables in the auditorium and ushered people in, encouraging them to move to the front of the theater. The Bagdad Theater (it seems that I have been there a lot lately) soon filled with a merry crowd anticipating to have a great time.
When the emcees (performers from Good Sista/Bad Sista) asked for volunteer for judges, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t know who the competing poets were, not had I ever heard of them, so that made me eminently qualified and impartial. I got to sit in the second row with a paper pad and a Sharpie marker, to rate poems by Anis Mojgani, Karen Finneyfrock, Buddy Wakefield, Jodie Knowles, Derrick Brown, and Tara Hardy. When ready, I, along with the four other judges, waved my scores high over my head, in turn cheered and booed by the audience. It was a blast!
The whole thing was a lot of fun, and the poems were amazing! Scoring them was difficult; how can one reasonably rate someone’s words and feelings, expressed as performance art? But some poems “spoke” to my heart, and they are, in no particular order:
- Tara Hardy: poem about sand
- Karen Finneyfrock: poem about the Statue of Liberty
- Anis Mojgani: poem about his talking to a little boy on the bus
- Buddy Wakefield: poem about his anxious mother
- Jodie Knowles: poem about (I think) her brother
- Derrick Brown: the poem about a schoolyard fight, mimed by Anis Mojgani (with the help of Buddy Wakefield, the latter supporting the former as he reenacted the author falling down from a blow, then standing up again); this group performance was amazing.
And after it was all over, I picked up the remaining booklets and pencils.

Election Night (11-04-08)

We were invited to the Crawfords' on Tuesday, for an "Election Night Party."
It was nice to see that there was an apparent consensus across the country, and it was as if one could feel people around the globe sigh with relief.
I was also nice to hear a great speaker for a change. Someone who spoke well, who said meaningful, complete sentences, with no snickering. Soon, the "nukular," the "He's a good man," the "Mission Accomplished," the "I am the Decider"...will become just fleeting elements of a nightmare from which people yearn to wake up.
Of course, I am not an idealist to the point of thinking that this election is going to be the dawn to a new course for the country, but, maybe, it'll bring enough small changes to make a difference for the better. We need to move on, to turn the page. Let's change our modus operandi and fix things rather than dismantle and destroy.