I have to say this year’s NPS has probably been my favorite nationals experience. Not only are cambridge & boston fantastic host cities, but the weather was lovely and my team was full of incredible people who happen to be incredibly talented and also good-looking (see above.)
Here is my attempt to recap the past five days:
We arrive at the Meridian. Poet orientation is packed! Fati and I meander in the hallway while Coach P and Franny pay attention to whats going on. We run into some of the MN/CUPSI crew, who I meet for the first time, such cool people! After orientation we head straight to our first prelim venue, All Asia Restaurant. The venue is interesting, there’s a decent-sized stage but there’s also a huge bar down the middle of the room that keeps the crowd awkwardly divided for most of the night. Speaking of crowds…the venue is packed! Luckily Providence supporters manage to pack the house despite the ridiculously long line and small seating space. A bunch of Laura’s family and friends are there, and members of the Prov Youth Team, and a bunch of Brown/WORD! fam (including Ceci, Kai, and Amina!). In this bout we’re up against Hawaii, Brass Knuckles, and our good friends from WU Slam. We throw up Thats What He Said in the first round, then Gecko by Phil, Pop by Franny, and close out with Apocrypha. We have a tiny mic issue with the group piece in the first round, but despite this small flub everyone gives stellar performances. WU Slam put up stiff competition and threw some fantastic work (including an awesome group piece about short hair by Fiona Chambliss and Lauren Banka). They end up taking the one, with Providence coming in second place. After the bout Providence heads back to the overflow hotel to get some well-deserved sleep.
Coach P and his lovely hair co-host an open mic around the theme of “origins.” Fatimah, Ceci, Franny, Coach P, and I all perform. Coach P is an excellent and endearing co-host, and makes a joke about beluga whales that goes over very well. After the open mic the team splits up to run some errands and attend some workshops. Then Fatimah’s uncle picks us up and treats us to lunch at a delicious pakistani restaurant. Then the team heads to Meg’s room for rehearsal/strategy session with Providence legend Jared Paul. Then, since its our night off, we decide to head to the Cantab to try and catch the early bout. To our surprise the line is literally around the block, so we wait in it for an hour or so to secure our spot for the late bout. Meg organizes some dope folks to spit poems on the sidewalk while we wait in line. Finally we get tickets for the late bout, Fati and I head downstairs to watch WU Slam’s bout, while LLBL, Phil, and Fran go upstairs to watch Cantab. After the bouts Providence (being the social caterpillars that we are) heads back to the Hyatt to get some sleep.
Nerd Slam! Franny and Phil have been practicing their pokemon rap (to the tune of Kanye West’s “Monster”) almost more often than they rehearse their poetry.. and that shit paid off. The pokerap not only received a standing ovation, but also the highest honor of nerd slam: the audience chanting “NERD” at you at the top of their lungs. Phil and Fran were the 2011 Nerd Slam Champions, and Fran took home the grand prize: a rugged-looking action figure that wipes his own crotch with a dirty tissue. Cool right? What’s most cool about it is that it used to belong to Robbie Q Telfer!
After the nerd slam glory, the team heads to the Meridien for rehearsal and strat talk in Meg’s room. Then we’re on our way to our second prelim bout at Cafe 939 in Boston (the only prelim venue not located in Cambridge). As we walk over the river to Boston, the sun is setting over the water and that shit looks really pretty. As we cross the bridge, we “get in the zone” admiring the view as Laura regales us with tales of Providence’s historical past, back when Rhode Island was a tiny colony that got shat on by all the other colonies. Not today, Boston, not today. As we walk we listen to our theme song, and run our poems under our breath.
Tonight’s bout is against Slam Charlotte, Verbal Slap, and one of this year’s home teams, Lizard Lounge. We throw up Drone (group piece), Dinosaur Anal Sex (Meg), Pigeon (Me), and Repetition (Phil). The other teams are incredibly dope, particularly Slam Charlotte, who I had never seen before. We end up taking the one, which guarantees us a spot in semifinals! We then head back to the hotel, and in an attempt to celebrate our victory we put in the Sandlot. Unfortunately everyone falls asleep within the first ten minutes of the movie, but at least we tried!
FIRDAY: (when shit gets crazy)
Let me begin by mentioning the fact that there is a full moon on this Friday night…
We begin the morning by taking a trip down to the Hyatt pool. This is ends up being one of the best decisions we make all week. We swim around, play some bumper butts, have a relay race, and even get complimented by a woman vacationing from Maine on how “America!” we are. Then we dry off and Laura leads us in a yoga meditation on the balcony overlooking the parking lot. After this wonderful chill-out session, we head to rehearsal in Meg’s room and run poems. Then we head to the Cambridge YMCA for our semifinals bout. Tons and tons of Providence support is in the house! We start off strong, Black Boys, Just Like a Woman, and Library in the third round. Then, during the last poem of the third round, the fire alarm went off. The audience rallied for the poet (whose poem coincidentally was about how to turn a closet into a fire escape) and waited for him to finish and receive his scores before evacuating the building. The firemen then proceeded to put out the very real fire that had somehow started in the building (someone said it was a started by a cigarette lighting somewhere). We waited outside for about 40 minutes until we were allowed to re-enter, under the condition that we continued the bout without applause, laughter, or any kind of audience noise because of the residents living in the YMCA. So, we restart the third round in silence, and the energy is kinda weird, but the audience members are real troopers about the whole thing. But then, one of the poets from Santa Cruz has a medical emergency in the middle of her performance. The bout is then stopped for the night, and rescheduled for a TBA time and location tomorrow morning. By this time the crowd, and the alot of the poets seem to be mentally and emotionally exhausted. Providence has a short debrief session and then heads off to NUPIC to support Laura, who is competing! Laura ends up performing Drone in the first round, then Lunacy. She kills both pieces, but is eliminated in the second round. It’s around 4am at this point, and Providence then heads back to the Hyatt and sleep like babies until…
We awake to a message from Meg (Morning Angels!) telling us we need to be at our rescheduled semis bout in Harvard Square in TWO HOURS. Quick brushing of teeth, quick cab ride to HS, quick Dunkin Donuts run. Our new semis venue is a gorgeous Baptist Church. We throw the same first and second round poems as last night, then sub in Phil with Suburbia in the 3rd round. Meg closes out the fourth round with an amazing performance of Hammer Hands. Providence takes first place! We award ourselves with a trip to the burger joint and some raspberry lime rickeys.
After semis end, we find out we have to be at call for finals stage in, you guessed it, two hours. We scarf down our burgers and start the walk over to Boston. The bridge is just as pretty in the day time. We get in the zone. We arrive at the Berkley Music Hall (I forget what its called?) have a team meeting and run poems in backstage for a while. We end up bouting against Nuyo, Nuba, and Columbus, and its an awesome show. We draw the A, and throw Franny with Pop as our opener, then Repetition, then Pigeon, then Laura with Bean. Afterwards I feel so proud of my team, so happy, so exhausted, and so ready to party. We head back to the Agard where the after party is happening. There’s a long line so we jump in through the window, nbd. Good DJ! Good drinks! Good night! Providence succeeds in making social connections / not falling asleep before midnight.
Whew! That’s no where near a full recap, but I think I captured some high lights 🙂
And here are some pics!