If you weren’t at the Capital Slam Semi-Finals at the Alumni Auditorium last night you missed what Komi Olaf tweeted was “the best second round of slam I have ever seen”

A little more succinct was Alena Mawiya who tweeted “I just came”.

At least I assume she was talking about the poetry and not a very active audience participation.

Either way… what a great show!

Capital Poetry Collective Director, poet, musician, man-about-town Brad Morden was the man with the mic as he was host for the festivities. DJ Cosmo was spinning the tunes. Ruthanne Edward was managing the bout. Kathryn Hunt was minding the door… and we were off!

The first round sac was 2011 CapSlam team member and 2010 Wild Card team member, Sean O’Gorman! O’G did a new piece that has made the on-line rounds about the treatment of women in the slam scene. A great piece (and you MUST hear the team version he did with Tammy Mackenzie if the opportunity arises), but it is way too long for slam. He also read it and the judges just let him have it… scores ranging from 5 to 8 and a 5 point time penalty, left him with a 15.8. Not exactly a bar setter. 🙂 (But we love O’G!)

Then the slam! Who would draw the evil bullet… none other than former CPC Director and 2007 and 2008 CapSlam team member Sir Realist, back at slamming after a long hiatus! He did his expanded Praying Four. The judges adjusted after the sac, but not as much as they would later. He ranged from an 8 to a 9.3, ending with a 26.5. Would score creep be an issue? (Spoiler: Yes.)

Next was 2010 and 2011 Urban Legends team member, Hyfidelik! Hyf laid down his wisdom in layers and the judges… didn’t know how to react. We saw scores ranging from 8 to the first 10 of the night. He ended with a 27.0. He held the top spot for a few poets, but first round creep was still to come!

The third poet was rookie, Colleen Leafloor! Colleen brought an incredible amount of wit and whimsy. The crowd ate it up but the judges… were a little more luke warm. Scores ranging from 7.6 to 8.9 netted her a 25.5.

CapSlam Slam Master, CapSlam team member in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011, Rusty Priske was up next. Rusty went old school and asked the audience ‘Why Art?’ The crowd really dug the piece, but some of the judges said, ‘why art? who cares?’… scores ranged from 7.5 to 9.0. Rusty got a 24.9… the lowest score of the night. (sniff, sniff… this recap just MAY be written by the poet himself…)

You know how score creep works, right? It isn’t a gradual climb of numbers. It happens when somebody comes up, rocks the mic, blows the roof off, and gets the judges excited. It shifts the following marks upward as well. How do you beat score creep? Ask OpenSecret. You beat it by being the poet who blows the roof off…

Open Secret (CapSlam team member 2008, 2009, 2010, Canadian Individual Slam Champion 2011) told us about a dream he had. Two of the judges thought that dream deserved a 9.5. The other three judges gave him a 10. 29.5.

Forget everything else – scores, judges, whatever… Ikenna was amazing… and we hadn’t seen his real highlight of the night yet.

Next up was 2011 CapSlam team member, Loh El. He mused about what he could tell his son about the world. His scores ranged widely, from an 8 to a 10. He finished with a 26.4.

Next was our second rookie of the night, Mia Morgan! Mia is a true poet. The judges thought so too. They ranged her from an 8.1 to a 9.5, ending with a 26.8.

The next poet was 2011 Kingston team member, ArRay-of-WoRds. Ray talked about Chernobyl in a round about way and got back scores ranging from an 8.5 to a 9.4. He finished with a 26.4.

Next was the Capital Slam Rookie of the Year, V! V has a way with words, tying them in knots and cutting through them. She is a poet on the rise, and you WILL be hearing more and more from her. Tonight the judges liked what they heard in a range of 8.8 to 10 and awarded her a 27.4 (second only to OpenSecret at this point, but an end-of-round onslaught was about to come!)

A Just Jamaal remix was ready to drop! Jamaal was a member of the 2011 Urban Legends team and was the author of the most innovative performance piece at the festival last year. He remixed another one here (while dropping knowledge about Monsanto and G.M. foods). The judges ranged him from 8.5 to a pair of 10s, to the tune of 28.6.

The next poet wasn’t a rookie this year but it was his first big step forward. Ronsense gave us a very moving piece about… the death of cell phones. The judges ranged from 9.1 to 9.9 for the most flat out funny poem of the night. He ended with a 28.3.

The round finished up with 2010 CapSlam team member and 2011 Urban Legends team member, PrufRock. Pruf gave us a sequel to his classic Patent Numbers. The judges had a difference of opinion on the power of the piece, ranging from a 8.2 to a 10, but the low score was the outlier as he ended with a 28.5.

So, where were we after one round?

OpenSecret – 29.5
Just Jamaal – 28.6
PrufRock – 28.5
Ronsense – 28.3
V – 27.4
Hyfidelik – 27.0
Mia Morgan – 26.8
Sir Realist – 26.5
Loh El – 26.4
ArRay-of-WoRds – 26.4
Colleen Leafloor – 25.5
Rusty Priske – 24.9

Some surprises in there? Maybe, but we said going in that there were TOO MANY amazing poets and they couldn’t ALL make the finals!

Then came the second round.

During the break, John Akpata talked about how a number of poets ‘played it safe’ in the first round. In the second round, all bets were off. The stops were all pulled and analogies were forced. (By the recap writer, not the poets…). 11 of the 12 poets got a higher score in the second round than the first (and not just due to score creep.)

The second round sac was 2011 Ottawa Youth team member, CauseMo! Her scores ranged from an 8.0 to a 9.2 and she got a 25.4 to calibrate the judges for the second round.

For the first time, the second round was completely random (we used to do reverse order from the first round) and first out of the hat was Just Jamaal! Jamaal gave us a brand new and powerful piece about suicide. The judges felt it. They started at 9 and ended with two 10s. He got a 29.3. (and the first of MANY standing O’s in the second round.)

Next up was OpenSecret.



Ikenna brought a new piece about Beethoven. A master writing about a master and the single best use of silence in a poem that I have EVER heard.


One of the judges gave him a 9.5. The rest saw what Sean McGarragle refers to as ‘spontaneous orgasms around the room’ deserving of TENS. (just ask Alena Mawiya). Yes, that means he got a THIRTY.

The unlucky soul who had to follow that was MORE than up to the task. PrufRock lowered his voice and got the crowd leaning forward to catch every word. Very well done. His scores started at a couple of 9.1s, but he netted three TENS of his own! 29.1.

Next was Colleen Leafloor… who I think was happier to be in the room than anyone else, poet OR crowd! This time her scores ranged from 8.9 to 10 and she got a 27.9.

Loh El followed with his Men of the New Millennium piece. 9.3 to 9.7, ending with a 28.6.

Next back to the mic was ArRay-of-WoRds and he followed Loh El’s example and went into the archives to talk about the sex trade slavery markets. 8.9 to 10. 28.1.

Ronsense followed his first round humour with second round emotion. He talked about his internal conflicts deciding which gender’s world he belongs in… or wants to. He got the only (ONLY) time penalty of the night (not counting the O’G sac). Scores ranged from 8.8 to 9.7. A .5 penalty left him at 27.5.

Sir Realist brought a brand new piece! It is great to hear new work from the vets! Scores ranged from 9 to 9.9. netting him a 28.5.

Mia Morgan was up next, keeping it real on the poetry tip. (No… I have no idea why I said that…) She got an 8.9 and a TEN, with the three that count adding up to 28.1.

Rising superstar V was next. Laying out a relationship like a barroom brawl, she took the crowd home with her and got the second highest score of the night. 9.3 (to boos) 9.8 10 10 10. 29.8.

The penultimate poet of the night was Rusty Priske who dropped a new poem about how the issues around slam as safe space have affected him. Those that KNEW loved it. THose that didn’t thought it was pretty good too. Scores ranged from 9.3 to 9.9 giving him a 28.6.

The final poet was Hyfidelik who gave us Hyf power and got a 9.5 to a TEN, ending with a HUGE 29.2.

So, let’s look at Round 2 over all:

OpenSecret – 30
V – 29.8
Just Jamaal – 29.3
Hyfidelik – 29.2
PrufRock – 29.1
Rusty Priske – 28.6
Loh El – 28.6
Sir Realist – 28.5
Mia Morgan – 28.1
ArRay-of-WoRds – 28.1
Colleen Leafloor – 27.9
Ronsense – 27.5

But the rounds added together are what counts. The top 8 poets go on to the Finals on June 16th (and bring their scores with them). The other four get lovely parting gifts like… well, nothing. Accolades and the joy of sharing their words. 🙂

So everyone wins!

1. OpenSecret – 59.5
2. Just Jamaal – 57.9
3. PrufRock – 57.6
4. V – 57.2
5. Hyfidelik – 56.2
6. Ronsense – 55.8
7T. Sir Realist – 55.0
7T. Loh El – 55.0
9. Mia Morgan – 54.9 (missing by .1!)
10. ArRay-of-WoRds – 54.5
11. Rusty Priske – 53.5 (but #1 in our hearts. Right? RIGHT?!)
12. Colleen Leafloor – 53.4

I mentioned it above but you do NOT want to miss the formation of the next Capital Slam team and the Finals on June 16th! I have heard mentioned that it is ‘time to get our championship back’ and the path starts HERE!


3 thoughts on “CapSlamSemiFinalReCap!!

  1. […] I am not going to go over it all. Read my recap at the CapSlam blog first. […]

  2. ritallin says:

    Great write-up, Rusty — I’m looking forward to being in the audience for the Finals!

  3. rockbumbly says:

    Ikenna, Ron, and Pruf all made me cry. I was a mess by the end of Pruf’s quiet, stunning, heartbreaking poem (dropping his voice like that was bold genius)… and I have to apologize to Nate but I couldn’t hear his poem over the shellshock of Ron’s. I was still reeling.

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