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.