faust_mckenzie (faust_mckenzie) wrote,

On IWPS Playoffs

Last night was Van Slam's Indies Playoffs to determine who reps us at the Individual World Poetry Slam in Cleveland this October and the Canadian Indies right here in Vancouver next April. I thought it could quickly turn into a coronation for much-loved superpoet and Van Slam legend monkeypudding, but because of a somewhat weird change in the scoring rules (which I had nothing to do with), I ended up winning. Not that I didn't kick ass, I did, but the outcome was, let's say, complicated.

You see, for the past two years, Van Slam has had 10 poets qualify for the Indies Playoffs. Then there's four rounds: 1-minute, 3-minute, 4-minute, 2-minute with the lowest-scoring two poets eliminated each round. That means 4 poets in the final 2-minute round. Up until this year, it has always been scored cumulatively, which has the advantage of giving weight to all your poems in the final decision, but the disadvantage that the competition is usually over and out-of-reach by the last round.

This year it was announced to the poets at the bout that we would be working with a clean slate each round, and that the winner of the 2-minute round would be the champion. I have no problem with the format change, but the fact that the change wasn't communicated to the poets until they arrived at the bout pisses me off mightily. Rule and format changes should never come as surprises. You gotta give poets fair warning.

So, would I have won if it had been scored cumulatively (as originally advertised)? Nope, I would have lost to RC Weslowski by 0.1. I spoke to RC about this. He has a tour of Ontario already planned for October and squeezing in IWPS would have been tricky, so he's fine with it. He's also a very Zen dude, and not one to let something like this annoy him. Still, not sure I could be so accepting in his place.

Anyway, scoring controversary aside, it was a great bout, and all the poets were rocking the stage. I had a great time busting out my new favourite piece "Noise Complaint" in which I re-enact calling in a lack-of-noise complaint to City Hall (which I actually did). It's one of the few pieces where I feel I'm no longer doing poetry, I'm doing spoken word. It doesn't even vaguely resemble lyrical page poetry. It's a rant in the form of a one-sided telephone conversation. I was explaining all this to the outrageously-talented Lucia Misch after she had said something nice about it, and we started talking about the literary and oral traditions and how everyone seems to aim for that part of the Venn diagram where the two overlap, and how maybe that's a bit limiting. "Yeah, enough of this bisexual poetry" Misch said in jest, "Make up your mind already!" which is one of the damned funniest things I've heard in a long time.

Looking forward to Cleveland and messing with heads in the grand tradition of Van Slam trickerism!
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