Ballabajoomba Poetry Slam

This is my tale of Scheherazade.  It was the first night, the opening of the Ballabajoomba poetic season, and a powerful introduction to poetry slam.  Fourteen poets took the stage with eleven competing.  They faced judges chosen randomly from the audience who scored the event over three rounds.  Within the shadows of the bar their stories of rich, shimmering word-webs caught our attention.  So carefully did each craft their tale that not a single poet was truly sacrificed.  Their poems danced in alliteration, flowing from theme to theme in incremental steps.  Repetition, allusion, images, rhyme, rhythm–every poetic element made an appearance.  Some were halting, some confident.  I noticed adornments of lists, strong characterization, wit, dialogue, pathos and humor.  Others wore weaves of imagery compared, contrasted or both–some bold, some subtle.  There were so many voices–soldiers, dragons, mothers, lovers, genders, cultures, sufferers, poets, seekers, rejected, visionaries, friends, wounded, insane, doubters, believers, princes, proud, generous, selfish, jokers, hopeless, lonely, spoiled, truthtellers, strangers, princesses, and more.  They whispered, they shouted, they near wept, and they sang.

Thank you each and every poet from Sunday night’s opening season.  Thank you very much, Anastacio Palomo.  Your performance invited, but your words, your poems illuminated what slam can be.  I did not leave unchanged.  I left inspired, as our host Stefan predicted.  I drove home that night, the echoes and shadows of so many tales my companions, and smiled knowing there will be at least a thousand more to come.


About T A Smith

Just one of the literacy scholars on this site who wants to explore writing in all its complexities.
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22 Responses to Ballabajoomba Poetry Slam

  1. rdl says:

    Hi been busy with life and politics, can’t wait to get back to poetry. where are these slams? what state?

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I understand about life. It interferes with my writing too. 😉 The slams I mentioned are in Corpus Christi, Texas, but you should be able to find them all around the U.S. I hope to go to another one at the end of the month, but we’ll see. Thanks for stopping in and commenting.

  2. blancaster99 says:

    I have to agree with Rick on this one. The language use in your description is beautiful in and of itself, sublime really. I think this could grow into a wonderful short story using that lovely poetical voice or yours.

  3. aloha Poetic Rabbit. yeah, your speak of the event was poetry in itself with a prose line here and there. a very fun read. alluring – makes me want to experience the event again (I mean again after experiencing it in your words for this fun first wow).

    I’ve never been to something like a slam. well not recently at least. readings and so on in my college days – probably not quite the same tho. I’m not sure I could do it. it would be wild to experience it. next to your speak words on it.

    …and that drive home… yeah I remember things that have swept me away like that. and your words took me right there. cool.

    jabber write on into your writing please. …and I do mean jabber in the most fun sence of that word. aloha.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Welcome back. Sorry for bailing half-way through the Haiga month. I’ve still plans to finish, just belated postings. 😉 Too much life, too much reality. I’m ready for many, many zen moments. Glad you enjoyed the post. Apparently there are national competitions in slam poetry. I can only imagine how exciting that must be, because Sunday night had a lot of energy on its own. I’ll jabber. Promise. I’ll mix in a few pics and coherent lines too. Soon, soon. aloha

      • cool on jabber. and no worries on the 30 days of Haiga. I know how life works. and it doesn’t take a day off. I’m still behind on the 30 days my self. I just can’t get it all done in one sitting. or maybe 19 sittings either. I think I have about 5 days of Haiga looking to go. if you post something to a Linky list do let me know in a comment there so I’ll know to come see. no need to go back and catch up tho unless one of the prompts is calling you with out let up – like life. no worries on that at all. just stay on your course. plug in your pen for ten minutes when you are able to do so. and play. it’s the shortest line to sanity. or. maybe insane fun is too. yeah. wow on your slam fun too. aloha.

        • Yousei Hime says:

          Thanks. You make smile and breathe deeply. Both feel great.

          • yeah. smile and breathe. that’s even better than just breathe you know. okay I’m off to water can sprinkle the papaya seedlings I plunked in the ground yesterday. … that way it’ll rain later . other wise it won’t. laugh on . or laugh in. and breathe on. aloha.

      • Stefan says:

        Yes, there are National competitions. Team slam sometimes involve about 70 teams, 4 poets on each team, that represent various slamming scenes and communities from all over the world. Sometimes poets perform as a team on the stage, so the poems have multiple voices. The indi slam is about to start today in the Ozarks. More on these topics here:

        There are also regional competitions and, at one time, we hope to bring teams from all over Texas to show their craft on our stage.

        Ballabajoomba slam-master

        • Yousei Hime says:

          Thank you for the confirmation of Nationals and general information. How exciting it would be to see the team slams and upper level competitions. Please do keep us informed, here and/or the Facebook site.

  4. Stefan says:

    Thank you so much for coming down and for this post.

    For me, it’s never been about the points and competition; Slam but a gimmick. But there is no doubt it can build up community and bring people to poetry. What we’ll do with it is up to us.

    I hope we’ll see you again.

    Ballabajoomba slam-master

    By the way, could I repost it on/linked it to our FB page, please?

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I truly enjoyed the evening. I won’t be back for October unfortunately. Too many prior commitments. I hope to be back for one in November. You are more than welcome to share the link on Facebook or elsewhere. Until next time best to everyone.

  5. leahJlynn says:

    It must have been some evening. You had me reading this like a mystery , I hope that they have you do their advert next time 🙂 and nice to read you again, you’ve been a way.

  6. Raven says:

    Yousei this sounded so wonderful. I miss you. Hugs!

    • Yousei Hime says:

      It was an eye-opening and enjoyable evening. Sorry my posts are hit-and-miss. I’m hoping to slip back into my writing routine again. See you when I see you. Hugs back. 😉

  7. I’ve resisted slam because (in New York at least) there are so many people in the slam community I find really aggravating, and it’s just not my style. But if you say it can be inspiring and fun… hmmm.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      It was a different experience for me. The readings ignored personal space and pressed in on you, demanding attention. In college we had readings followed by critiques (prepared ahead of time, of course), for our creative writing club. The readings were sometimes dramatic, but never what I would have called a performance. These were performance pieces, several at their best when heard. One fellow even did a mash-up of Hamlet. It was very popular with the audience, which pleased the Shakespeare lover in me. The poems and poets ranged in skill and delivery, but they all had powerful voices. We can all express it in a way that is beautiful beyond common speech. We can speak in imagery, metaphor, symbolism, building sympathetic reverberations in our listeners. I won’t deny the competitive atmosphere. That’s not really my style either. Not every poem was to my taste, but that doesn’t matter. I can recognize what is done well, even the parts that are done well. I listened with a writer’s ear, and when I forgot about the craft, I knew afterward I’d heard something very special indeed. If you ever go, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the piece of the New York scene you witnessed.

  8. ManicDdaily says:

    So cool! Wish I could get there! k.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I really enjoyed it. Made me think of the Beat poets, though rougher. Don’t know that I’ll ever have the nerve (or the length of poetry) to get on the stage myself, but I’m definitely going back when I can. I wish you could come too. 🙂

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