Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Poets Passing

Thanks to everyone for all the support during the National Poetry Slam.

We did it! We really did it! This was far and away the biggest event I've ever been involved with. Days and days long. And loooooooooonnnnnnnnggggg days. Anyone can tell you, especially my poor dog -- who actually barked at me coming home one night. She's never done THAT before...

Here's my partner in crime, Hilary Lipton, Volunteer Visionary. I was the grunt; she was the power. It's true! It's true!

The poets had an amazing time. They loved Albuquerque, and they could really feel all the community support that just grew and grew over the course of the week.

We started with very little press coverage -- Alibi withstanding -- and eventually hit every media outlet that heard the buzz. The Jurinal wasn't even going to cover it at all until we got so many people out Wednesday night. Wednesday night! Poetry!

The owner of OPM now wants to host a poetry slam once a month. The owners of Flying Star LOVED how many people now know where they are downtown. We kept Gorilla Tango in the black for another month at least.

All in all, this poetry event gave back to Albuquerque as much as it took. Mostly what it took is every single ounce of my energy and shred of free time! Everyone else's, too, for that matter.

And the poetry itself? Well, what I got to hear of it was ... incredible. Best of the best of the best. I loved hearing how many people had never seen performance poetry before who were just BLOWN away. They're hooked. They kept asking, "Do we have this kind of talent here in Albuquerque?" And then our boys proved that we do by WINNING the entire thing.

Little ole Albuquerque beat out every single other city for ... poetry. Despite the hoopla at finals night, what was clear during the competition was how tight our team was. We may not have been the best writers (although we were among the best for sure), but we had the best team. I think that's what the audience really responded to. And the fact that they performed on their home turf? Probably helped, but it could just as easily have hurt them, as there were plenty of judges that did NOT want to see them win.

So... it's anyone's guess, really.

For me, I was just overwhelmed again and again with the energy and passion sweeping downtown -- from the poets, the audience, and also the volunteers, who poured sweat and guts into everything they did.

I loved the feeling of solidarity, knowing we were all working together to make this impossible thing happen.

The most tense moment for me was standing outside of the El Rey before individual semi-finals. We'd already turned 100 people away from NHCC; all the venues were sold out. We could easily see 1200 people show up any minute trying to get into an 800 person venue. We were looking at trying to control 400 disappointed/angry people on the sidewalk.

I walked up to 2 guys that I've met through friends -- friends of friends, if you will -- and told them I was nervous and asked them to help in whatever way they could just to keep things calm. Damned if they didn't end up working the door ALL NIGHT. That's solidarity. They got my back, and they didn't really know me from Eve.

Community, man. I swear to god.