David Hess

Slam Diary Extra

More than a month has passed since the last syllable was unleashed by the last slamstress and slamster to compete in the 10th annual National Poetry Slam Championship, which took place in Chicago from August 11-14, 1999, and now, several days later and many miles away from the epicenter, I, the seismologist of the subcultural fault line, am faced with the daunting task of presenting all of it to you — the slammaphobic and slammaphiliac deer soon to be stuck in the strobe lights of my saga’s meteor shower of philosopher’s disco balls — by using, however, what may be said to be merely the aftershocks, i.e., MY ALMOST INDECIPHERABLE YET HARD WON NOTES which were written in improvised shorthand at top speed in dim, standing room only bars where nobody writes but everybody talks and where the phrase "Do you have a pen I can borrow real fast?" is treated as a request for an exotic drink by the locally logocentric bartenders or a customary come-on by the overly sexed hearing-impaired. Right now I’m thinking of including my phone number along with this essay or setting up some kind of recording service, a slam parody hotline (assuming it’s not already been patented by John Giorno and his Dial-A-Poem idea), so you can hear my adaptations of slam poems as I cannot reproduce for you in print form the spectrum of styles and rhythms that are the main entree at slambakes. The stock accent and high-to-low, low-to-high cadence maneuver used by most slamdroids has to be heard in person (think of the shifts of emphasis in the stanza from Williams’s poem, "To a Poor Old Woman," with its repeated line "[t]hey taste good to her," magnified tenfold for slam effects). But I will do my best here to aid your imaginations in the recreation of this event — which involved about 250 poets from 48 cities across the country — by means of my photographic, albeit fashionably retro daguerreotype memory which I am now praying will unglue the pages of my mind’s dendritically bound scrapbook. Amen and may the lord let us slam.

Tuesday, August 10

Wednesday, August 11

Thursday, August 12

Friday, August 13

Saturday, August 14

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