Don't visit Austin without trying a <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataburger>Whataburger</a>...
Just kidding on the title. The long, intense days, coupled with the heat and throngs of adoring Austinites (Austinians?) constantly chasing us down the street screaming "poetry!" are kind of wearing me down, though.
Anyways, after getting third in our first bout and second in our second bout, we ended up as the #32 ranked team out of 75. The top 25 teams make semifinals, so we were close. In terms of scoring, it's a definite improvement over last year. As Madison slammaster David Hart told me via email, this respectable ranking will ensure "that it doesn't look shady when Madison wins it all next year." I think that's a good way of looking at it.
All four of us are getting inspired here and really can't wait to get home and start writing again, particularly after watching today's group piece open mic at Antone's. This was an opportunity for teams from around the country to share their best group pieces in an open mic format -- no scores, just poetry. We saw some absolutely stunning pieces, from team San Francisco's immensely powerful poem about the ordeals of women in the U.S. military to a hilarious three-minute dance party from Chicago's Green Mill team.
Eric Mata and Josh Healey performed their piece about how men have trouble displaying and expressing their love for one another, while Eric and I gave an encore performance of "The Call."
Our last performance was at a showcase, where our "Working With Kids" poem scored so highly that we qualified to "open for" one of the semifinal bouts and share the poem before the competition began. All in all, the Madison team made a significant mark this year.
As we are officially out of the running now, I'm free to talk about some other elements of the National Poetry Slam; hopefully I can offer a little bit of what to expect at next year's gathering in Madison.
I guess the best part of the National Poetry Slam is its diversity -- we've been able to meet and hang out with individuals and teams not only from New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas, but also from cities like Farmington, Boise, Lincoln, Honolulu, Fayetteville and elsewhere. With 75 teams from every corner of the nation represented, the participants here are like a sampling of the entire country's collective arts scene. The energy is palpable, electric.
To close this report, I'm going to try my hand with a little video blogging. We're not allowed to film our actual performances, but here's a taste of our poetry.