also, everyone see this

….a sweet video we made at midnight with 16 poets, in French, English [5 different accents], Hebrew, Finnish, Spanish, Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian…

and i got a poem in the lovely Hannah Eiseman-Renyart’s Whippersnapper Press website: http://www.whippersnapperpress.com/archives/1679

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Post Paris Post Script Post

 

[clockwise from bottom left: Simon & Marianne from Quebec, Niklas from Sweden, Simen from Norway, me,  Ellen from Israel, RC Weslowski & friends from Canada, Juho from Finland, Dani from Spain, friend of Laura from Holland, Michael from Denmark, Jose from Portugal, Lews from Brazil, Laura from Holland + guy in hat]

 

 

“So are you happy with your journey?” a man asked me yesterday afternoon.

(he was apparently one of the people who had helped organize the slam, and was part of the slam scene in France for 12 years. Something about his doctor telling him to stop performing because of his heart)

“yes” I said.

Oh yes. Definitely. Hell yes. Fuck yes. .

THINGS:

  1. ARGH THIS LITERALLY JUST HAPPENED.
  2. 22 poets from 22 different countries, plus nearly a hundred slam poets from all over France, one café called Culure Rapide with a bar and half price everything for poets that became our home base, 5 straight days of performance poetry
  3. Discovering Monty Python & Game of Thrones are actually an international language
  4. Looking for the Shakespeare & Co bookshop but finding oysters instead
  5. Getting hopelessly lost in ‘that cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried’ with the Lews (Brazil), Juho (Finland) and Jose (Portugal) & a Brazilian filmmaker Douglas.
  6. Performing a poem with interpretive dancers dancing to the words.
  7. Poets Niklas and Ellen showing videos on their phones of the cats they had to leave at home, in Stokholm and Jerusalem
  8. Having Matt Cummins there as cheerleader/coach/agent /publicist/better able to chill and get into in-depth conversations about hip hop than me/provider of good vibes to everyone, in summary a living example of all that is awesome about the London poetry scene
  9. Getting lots of ideas for our night Forget What You Heard, pretty much inviting everyone we met to the UK to perform there (being able to say with Matt ‘THERE IS A STAGE WAITING FOR YOU IN LONDON’), and us getting called “the biggest poetry nerds I have ever met” by Simen (Norway)
  10. Drinking Leffe OUTSIDE and PAST 11PM every night with poets
  11. Getting to be part of a massive, 18-poet, 11-language cypher. Jazz8 (Romania)’s idea for a poetry cypher resulted in a small but brilliant video of me, Matt, Jazz8, Lews and Jose walking down a grafitti’d street performing poems in English and Portuguese. Later at midnight, we filmed another one with almost all the other international poets.
  12. Getting a mostly-French audience to laugh and like what I did. Yes, the translations were vital but it was also cool seeing how much performance mattered and could convey, and how much performance and rhythm superseded language some times.
  13. The projector fucking up completely halfway through the finals turning into the Blue Screen of Death, getting three poets up for halftime entertainment while they tried to figure out what was wrong, ending up in people dancing while fixing the computer as Michael (Denmark) shouted ‘ni!’ at them.
  14. Getting to make friends with and perform alongside 21 incredibly talented human beings.

******

In Junior College I was taught an important phrase

“WAH! We are so BIG!”

You have to think of it as being said with a mocking, sarcastic Singlish tone. It was taught to us by the PE teacher /outdoor activities coach IZ Lim while we were at the foot of a mountain (or bukit timah hill) and probably half-dead from climbing/running/pushups. It was basically a reminder that we are NOT FUCKING BIG AT ALL when compared to a mountain and a reminder whenever we feel self-important that we are not the centre of anything but in fact, very small. In any other language it would probably sound like hippy bullshit but in Singlish it made total sense.

Anyway, that’s kind of what this week felt like. Being in the same place as all the slam champions from around the world, being utterly humbled but also being shown  how much further I could go. It was a fine balance between ‘wah we are so big’ and ‘well yes, we are kind of a big deal’. In the week leading up to the competition I was watching past years’ slam world cups videos, freaking myself out thinking ‘oh shit what am I even doing there I don’t have anything that deep or powerful to say’. Then I got there and realised that I could hold my own against other national champions, that people did enjoy what I did and what I had to say.

Because yes, at some point in the slam, the points do matter, they get you recognition and credibility, more opportunities, and here only one would get the title. But ultimately everyone had already won something, everyone was equally amazing to watch, it was just that we were good at different things, and all had our own strengths and weaknesses. Some people were good at movement, some had a really interesting things to say, some could make the audience scream by just speaking line after line of quiet brilliance. It just so happened that sometimes the randomly-selected judges enjoyed some combinations of the things more than others at certain times. Mostly, it was different things from what the poets enjoyed, and different things from what the audience enjoyed.

The best moment was when I realised I was not going to win the semifinals, stopped caring about the points and just decided to enjoy the hell out of my performance, knowing the audience already liked me.

Also, just watching an international slam meant being exposed to more different styles and stories in an hour than you would in, say, a week of poetry gigs in the UK. [but you can also see them here]  Watching other people and thinking ‘ that’s something I could be doing that I don’t do’ rather than ‘OMG what am I doing here they are all better than me’ I will never be able to do that’, getting honest criticism (‘yeah we were discussing your performance and we thought you lost out on…’) and in the end, really just coming back with a burning desire to write more and more and differently, try thing in my performance I would have otherwise never have considered doing. Not to win more slams or prove anything but to see what was possible, to evolve. Exponentially I mean, a year ago my performances mostly involved me standing still reading things nervously off a torn notebook, not knowing what to . In short, if it was possible to overdose on inspiration I just might have.

I need to steal the quote from the title of Canadian poet RC Weslowski’s poem to sum up a lot of the week: ‘its so good to be here’. There was chaos, a lot of disorganization and some parts did resemble an example of how not to run an international slam and how to alienate friends and piss off poets from all over the world, but ultimately, we were there, and I was there. I made some great friends, shared the message of the awesomeness that is the UK poetry scene, learnt about other countries’ scene learnt a massive amount, and I am indeed very happy with this journey.

Next moves:

-Commie Faggots gig at The Others in Stoke Newington on Thursday, 14 June 7PM

-Paper Tiger Poetry Slam feature, along with Jason Pilley in Vauxhall, Friday  21st June 7PM

– probably should start thinking about  will be studying for and passing doing excellently my last two exams next week.

-mega-huge Forget What You Heard Summer Edition! Ft. Dan Holloway, Ben Norris and Peter Hayhoe on June 22nd at 3PM-7PM  Saturday

-The Glastonbury Poetry & Words Stage

Poetry Slam World Cup (Slam Coupe du Monde), Paris 2013: Day 4

INGERLUND! INGERLUND!

its a bright and sunny June in Paris and I got through the first round last night, along with the champions from Quebec and Maurtitius. The ones who won the other heat were Scotland, Denmark and Sweden. Woot!

They drew lots on the street late last night to decide who would perform in the semi-finals tonight, and its:
-Me

-Eupidien Descharonnes (France)

-Carly Brown (Scotland)

-RC Weslowski (Canada)

-Ellen Potless (Israel)

-Dani Orviz (Spain) (and European champion)

 

!!!!!

The Poetry Slam World Cup Paris 2013: Day 3

hello friends.
i have made it to Paris in one piece without losing my passport or getting lost. This is my third day here. This is the middle of (*takes quick look at brouchure*) the Grqnd Slam 2013.

There are around 22 poets from 22 different countries here taking part in the World Cup. The World Cup itself is only one slam of this festival-week. There are also 2 school slams and the French National Slam at the end of the week.The World Cup is three rounds, three poems in eqch round. There were 2 heats last night for the first round, six winners—Gabon, USA, France, Canada, and Spain made it in. My heat is tonight. I am up against the poets from Germany Norway Quebec Mauritius and Holland. Argh. Three of us will make it.

I am typing this from a cafe in Belleville, around Chinatown in Paris. Which is quite exciting (CHARSIEWPAO IN PARIS FUCK YES). Its kind of a slam cafe called Culture Rapide, with blue and red walls and bumper stickers everywhere and a dangerous spiral staircase and is next door to the slam office. it is currently filled with the poets frantically getting their poems translated into French and English which will be put on powerpoints and projected behind. translations are everything here and getting the words right is half the battle. The Spanish poet Dani Orviz just ran in to tell me to look up the “rock band with a dog as a lead singer”. There is one and its called Caninus. It was actually 2 pit bulls. But the band disbanded after the dogs died. Speaking of dogs, there is an old man who seems to walk his fat dachschund in perpetual circles around Belleville. Or maybe there are two of them. I dont know. The sun is out and all is amazing.

Funny story: When i first arrived and picked up at the airport i was driven to the theatre where the slam was along with Michael the poet from Denmark and George from Russia and asked “can you perform now?” This is how we began our week as sacrificial poets for the primary school slam with hundreds of cheering kids, somewhere between a school sports day and a singapore youth festival drama competition i never took part in. It was a good welcome.

Michael the Danish poet is sitting nearby. He too is competing tonight in Danish. I asked him for a comment but he doesnt know what to say. He says to ask again when he is drunk. Oh yeah and Matt Cummins is here as well! He is my coach.

some links to stick in your browser

http://www.grandslam2013.com/grandslam2013/coupemonde.html

videos: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10ldfd_coupe-du-monde-de-slam-2013-a-belleville-paris-1er-round-israel_creation#.Ua9QRuAz29A

(i hear there is a livestream somewhere but i dont know where it is)