Monday, December 12, 2005

I’d been to Chinatown many times before, but I was about to enter a new scene entirely: the DC literary scene. In the basement of the Teasim restaurant, a small eatery
on 8th Street, people munched on Chinese food and sipped on tea before a weekly poetry slam began. I’d been to readings before, but never a slam, and I was in for something very new.
First, a gaggle of “newbies” stood up to perform on the open microphone, some good, others…less so. The first woman blew me away; she stood up, introduced herself as “Chunky” and then fell into a sort of trance. Her poem was almost a rap and somehow simultaneously almost an acted scene. Her poem focused on reforming society and her performance was moving. The rest of the performers were less moving, but equally interesting: one man read off of a map-quest paper, and the last boy read out of a cell phone.
Finally the headliners, two nationally ranked slam poets from Denver, took the stage for their pieces. I was blown away, Andrea Gibson seemed to become her poems, her breathing, her intonation, her voice—everything was a part of the piece. Katie Wersling was also fantastic; she had a wry sense of humor and dry wit, though I found them both to deal with similar issues. I had no idea it would be possible to watch these two performances back-to-back and see the beauty in both.
As I walked from the restaurant, I realized that this may be my first contact with the literati, well, the pseudo literati. It may not have been Umberto Eco or Zadie Smith, but I appreciated it nonetheless. I suppose all I can hope is that when I am the starving artist people think the same.


Blogger Serena said...

I love, love, love poetry slams and have been itching to try the Teaism scene. If you were moved by what you saw, run out and buy a copy of Russell Simmon's Def Jam Poetry on DVD.

10:40 AM  
Blogger the kitchenette said...

Here's a great list of them:

11:41 PM  
Blogger the kitchenette said...

And ps, I love, love, love Teaism. Did anyone much on a salty oat while performing?

11:42 PM  
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