WHAT a NIGHT! What a show! What a slam! WHAT A TEAM!
Every year the Capital Slam season culminates in a finals show to crown the team that will represent CapSlam at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in October. This year CFSW will be in Saskatoon and CapSlam (National Champions in 2009 and 2010) is poised to make a big splash!
But this is a recap, so lets rewind a little bit.
A month ago, the semi-finals were held and 12 semi-finalists took the stage. At the end of the night we were down to 8 competing poets. Scores were cumulative so we really know who the best poets of the season are.
Going into the finals the scores were:
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
There was a lot of discussion about the spread – who could pass who – would OpenSecret finally get that one accolade that has eluded him thus far – would CapSlam have the first woman on a team since 2007…
But one thing that we ALWAYS know is that every year something or someone surprises everyone.
As always, everyone entered the show past the lovely and awesome Ruthanne Edward, without whom the show would be a lot weaker. You see her as the ‘door girl’ but she does SO much more than that. She is indispensable.
Then, as everyone got comfortable, they enjoyed the spinning throughout the show by DJ Memetic – a guest DJ as the CapSlam regular DJ was otherwise occupied (as in, he was one of the competitors).
SlamMaster Rusty Priske kicked things off by welcoming everyone to the show and then turned things over the the Capital Poetry Collective Director and host for the evening, Brad Morden.
Then, without too much more fanfare, we started what everyone was there to see – poetry. The first round sacrificial poet was a former Capital Poetry Collective Director (three of the CPC’s four director ‘eras’ were represented on stage during the show), Danielle K.L. Gregoire who did a new piece to warm up the crowd and the judges. She got a time penalty (there were three time penalties over the whole night, and two of them came from Sacs).
Time for the competitors! Drawing the bullet was… LOH EL!
Bad luck for Loh El. Sitting at the bottom of the standings meant he had the most points to make up and score creep would make that harder to do… normally.
I say normally, because here is the point I say really good things about the judges. Over the first two rounds, score creep seemed to be non-existant. (There was a bit of a bump from Round 1 to Round 2, but not WITHIN rounds, which is what matters the most) They were really consistent. GOOD JOB JUDGES! (In the third round scores went steadily higher but A: with four poets that could be the ‘right’ progression anyway and B: it didn’t change who won – just jockeyed some positions.)
Loh El got scores of 8.2 8.5 8.9 9.3 9.3 – for a total of 26.7
Next out of Brad’s magic hat was PrufRock. He went to his back catalog and told us about Wendy. Powerful message. He was rewarded with 8.6 8.9 9.0 9.1 9.2 for a total of 27.0
One of the interesting things with slam is how the aggregate works. Loh El got two scores higher than Pruf’s highest, but he also got two scores lower than Pruf’s lowest.
Third up was Sir Realist. Words do not do justice. Nathanael is another former CPC Director but this year was his first time back as a slammer in a while… and, when he did come back and slam he was mostly doing older pieces that those of us who were around in his previous time remember. Turns out, he picked up his poetry pen for the finals.
He absolutely captivated the audience in round one. Coming in from the semis it seemed very unlikely that he could make up the ground and get on the team… mathematically, that is.
Sir Realist said… the hell with math!
His scores were 9.1 9.3 9.5 9.7 9.7 for a total of 28.5. This would be the second highest mark given of the night.
Next up was the lone woman to make it through to the finals this year – V. With cries from the audience (and the merch table) of TEAM V! she took the mic and came strong… though with slightly lower scores than we had expected. Still strong. Still solid. Still right in the thick of things. 8.0 8.8 9.0 9.0 9.4 for a 26.8 (When it is me, I always want to know what that outlier didn’t like… you rarely get to find out, though)
Next up was OpenSecret, fresh off a great performance at the World Slam Championships in Paris, he had a big lead after semis… and to be honest, it showed. I mean, he was still great, but the difference between someone with that fire and someone who is ‘just’ extremely talented is clear. I say that for two reasons: one, that fire was THERE during the semis. There is a reason he had such a big lead going into the finals and two, he got the only time penalty of the active competitors. (Some of the fire came back in round 2, though…)
To be clear, this isn’t a criticism. It is just the way things were. We saw the same thing the year Ian Keteku won the title.
Having said all that, an 85% best OpenSecret is better than 95% of the slammers you will EVER see. I always love watching him perform and I have seen him a LOT. I just want to see Beethoven again. Best slam poem I have ever seen…
His scores were 8.1 8.5 9.2 9.4 9.4 for a total of 26.6 after his .5 deduction.
Next was Hyfidelik. He did a new piece and while the judges and crowd liked it, some minor fumbles (very minor) probably kept him from breaking out of the pack and moving up. 7.9 8.9 9.1 9.1 9.4 – 27.1
The penultimate performer of round 1 was one of the surprises of the season, Ronsense. Ron had performed at CapSlam before but he took a big step forward this season. He put Edward Cullen on trial in this piece… and I THINK some of the judges heard the comedy and not the message, but regardless he got a spread of points 8.4 8.4 8.9 9.2 9.3 for a total of 26.5
Finally we saw Just Jamaal who told us about a boy with a dream who became the voice (and hand!) of Elmo. The general consensus I heard after the show was over is that if ANY poem was robbed when the numbers went up, it was this one. 7.9 8.7 8.8 8.8 8.9 – 26.3
On the break there was (as expected) a flurry of activity with people checking their scores and seeing what they still needed to do or whether they were in danger etc.
They had to eyeball it, but I can give you updated standings here.
1. OpenSecret 86.1
2. PrufRock – 84.6
3. Just Jamaal – 84.2
4. V – 84.0
5. Sir Realist – 83.5
6. Hyfidelik – 83.3
7. Ronsense – 82.3
8. Loh El – 81.7
The big story there was Sir Realist who rocketed up the standings and into the alt spot, knocking Ron and Hyf down one spot each. Pruf also snuck ahead of Jamaal but OpenSecret still held a strong margin.
Then came round 2!
We started with another sac poet in the form of the very first CapSlam Champion, John Akpata. He did a very personal poem. Always great to hear from John.
This is the first year we changed up how we did the draw as we used to do the second round in reverse order of the first. Now we are doing full random every round. In case you were wondering who this helped or hurt (though, as I said, the judges were VERY consistent), there was a three-way tie for the mathematically most favourable draw between Hyfidelik, OpenSecret and V. Then Jamaal and Ron had the perfectly neutral draws, Sir Realist was slightly worse than neutral, PrufRock a little more so and Loh El had the worst draw… mathematically speaking.
For Just Jamaal to have a neutral draw after drawing last in the first round he had to, you guessed it, draw the bullet in round 2. He did a very theatrical piece in the second round that involved wrestling on the floor while clutching the mic. Reaction was mixed. Some people loved it. Some people disagreed. The judges seemed to fall more on the latter (but they didn’t hate on him either). Regardless, props to Jamaal for always pushing the envelope. 8.8 8.8 8.9 9.1 9.4 – 26.8
Next was Ronsense who did a deeply emotional and personal poem. There seemed to be a disconnect here and those who knew what he was writing about were strongly moved, but others couldn’t find that connection. Always dangerous and courageous territory. 8.1 8.2 8.6 9.0 9.1 – 25.8
Next up was Loh El and did a new piece that he just finished writing (which meant he needed note cards) but the crowd LOVED it! A SCATHING indictment of Stephen Harper and the shenanigans he and his puppets have been up to! 8.9 9.0 9.5 9.6 9.7 – 28.1
PrufRock was next, talking about Thomas Edison and facing your fears. Strong new piece. 8.8 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 – 27.3
Sir Realist, the talk of round 1, was back up with ANOTHER new poem! This one didn’t hit as hard as his first – but how could it? It was still excellent and the crowd and judges both agreed! 8.9 9.0 9.0 9.6 9.7 – 27.6
Hyfidelik went to the well and told the story of when he thought he was going to be a father. Strong piece and handled a very touchy subject with grace and class. 8.6 8.9 9.0 9.2 9.5 – 27.1
OpenSecret was back and had ironed out ALL the kinks – the fire ignited again. He showed how talented he really is – and got the highest score of the night 9.0 9.4 9.6 9.6 9.8 – 28.6
V rounded out the second go-through and she came really strong! She needed a decent score, but she did better than that! 8.8 9.0 9.1 9.7 9.8 – 27.8!
So, now where we? While invited duo Salt and Sea did a wonderful musical performance, Rusty and Brad reseeded the hat with the top 4 performers from all four rounds.
Here is where things get heart-breaking. After four rounds, we had somebody miss the 4th spot by a mere .1. (Side note from Rusty, writing this – that happened to me in 2009… ouch.)
Scores after round 2 (or round 4, depending how you look at it):
1. OpenSecret – 114.7
2. PrufRock – 111.9
3. V – 111.8
4. Sir Realist – 111.1
5. Just Jamaal – 111.0
6. Hyfidelik – 110.4
7. Loh El – 109.9
8. Ronsense – 108.1
The final round was random again. The difference this time is that these four poets knew they had made the team, so some of the performances weren’t quite as smooth… but it was due to emotion and the crowd loved it!
PrufRock was up first. I always remember in 2010 when his name was called for the last round and he didn’t know he was in. His exuberance was… awesome. His joy was a little more restrained this year. 🙂 9.0 9.0 9.1 9.3 9.4 – 27.4
OpenSecret was next and even he had trouble with a poem he has performed many times (Joan of Arc). He was beaming, though. 8.6 9.0 9.2 9.6 9.7 – 27.8
Next was Sir Realist. This was such a big deal. Nobody gave him a chance this year (due to math, not talent). His voice was shaking a bit and Brad said he thought it looked like he was going to cry. This is what makes shows like this so magical. 9.0 9.3 9.5 9.5 9.6 – 28.3
But the biggest ovation of the night, I think, came when V was announced last. She had to restart her poem but still came in under the 3 minute mark. 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.6 – 28.5
Brad Morden did a beautiful poem accompanied by Salt and Sea while Rusty (tabulated the scores). LOVELY.
Then Rusty came up to announce the 2012 Capital Slam Team.
The team alternate – a member of the 2011 Urban Legends team and missing the final round by only .1 – Just Jamaal
In 4th – a member of the 2011 Urban Legends team (their champ, actually) and the 2010 National Championship Capital Slam team – Prufock
In 3rd – a member of the 2007 and 2008 Capital Slam teams and a former CPC Director – Sir Realist
In 2nd – the 2012 Capital Slam Rookie of the Year (and the first woman on a CapSlam team since Danielle Gregoire in 2007) – V
And the 2012 Capital Slam Champion – a member of the 2008 Capital Slam team and the 2009 and 2010 National Championship Capital Slam teams – the 2011 Canadian Individual Slam Champion – a finalist at the 2012 World Slam Championships – tying the record for the most appearances on a Capital Slam team and the most National Championships across the country – OpenSecret!
1. OpenSecret – 142.5
2. V – 140.3
3. Sir Realist – 139.4
4. PrufRock – 139.3
5. Just Jamaal – 111.0
6. Hyfidelik – 110.4
7. Loh El – 109.8
8. Ronsense – 108.1
One thing I like to do every year is look at the impact of the one show – see how it played out if it were a stand-alone show. I have to ignore the final round, because not everyone got to do it, but here it wouldn’t have changed the order that we can see…
1. Sir Realist – 56.1
2. OpenSecret – 55.2
3. Loh El – 54.8
4. V – 54.6
5. PrufRock – 54.3
6. Hyfidelik – 54.2
7. Just Jamaal – 53.1
8. Ronsense – 52.3
So, now what?
The team has to get ready for Saskatoon and fundraising is a big priority!
For the audience, we need you to keep coming out to slams and spoken word poetry shows!
To help you out – here is what is coming up…
JUNE 22nd – THE ONCE UPON A SLAM FINALS! Ottawa’s STORY Slam, run by Red Words (Ruthanne Edward and Rusty Priske of Capital Slam fame) – See a different sort of slam!
JUNE 23rd – The Lanark County LiPS Slam Finals! Hosted by Rusty Priske and guest judged by Brad Morden and Just Jamaal! See another CFSW team formed!
JUNE 29th – The URBAN LEGENDS SEMI-FINALS! More Slam awesomeness! At the student center at Carleton! Watch your listings!
JULY 7th – Capital Slam continues throughout the summer. Keep supporting the series and if you have the itch, this is a good time to put your name on the list and share the stage with all of Capital Slam’s amazing poets! We have a special feature, 2 poets from Down Under on the Soles of Australia Tour! See you at the Merc.
Also, if you have ANY stake in Capital Slam and the Capital Poetry Collective, you really want to come to our Annual General Meeting. Big things are afoot and changes could be coming down the pike, so come out the Royal Oak on Laurier on June 27th at 7pm!
Big BIG thanks from the CPC to Andrew Brittain and Mudshark, the Alumni Auditorium and Jean-Félix Bouchard, the City of Ottawa for financial support and all the poets and audience that make this so rewarding!
From Brad, Rusty and Ruthanne… here is to another great year!