Cal Poly's Anthem Poetry Slam
Two nights ago, I was given the privilege of participating in California Polytechnic State University's eighth annual Anthem Slam in San Luis Obispo, California - something that I feel like was a fairly prestigious opportunity. In previous years, The Anthem has seen performances from George Watsky, "The Mighty" Mike McGee, Prentice Powell, Derrick Brown, Rudy Francisco, and a personal favorite who Dan Smith and Bradley Hathaway introduced me to years ago, Buddy Wakefield. Poets from all over the country have traveled to perform at The Anthem, and it stands as a highly respected event among them.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about slamming alongside this year's contestants - Kat Magill, Sam Sax, Terisa Siagatonu and Tatyana Brown - mainly because I don't know the slam world at all. Before the event, while they were all talking about old friendships and/or having followed one another's writing for years, I was wondering how in the world I'd gotten myself into a position of competing against these greats among the poetry community.
If you don't know anything about slam… good, me neither. There are time limits, content specifications, and rules about how much you can move around. And if you know my poetry, you know none of the pieces fall beneath five minutes, let alone three, and my body's all over the place.
At the end of the night, I was able to connect the dots as to how I ended up on that stage. A kid from Cal Poly (also named Levi) who had been following Levi The Poet content for years tweeted ( I love Twitter) at Anthem when they asked the school for suggestions as to who to bring in this year. There were a couple creatives on the Anthem committee that had heard of me because of their involvement in the hardcore scene, so they tweeted (again, Twitter) me, and voila! Hardcore kid screaming seven minute long "Kaleidoscope" at three hundred academics.
In all sincerity, though, I don't want to make light of it all. The audience was gracious, kind, full of energy. The other poets were obviously masters of their craft, and they too, were gracious and kind. I am increasingly interested in pursuing collegiate events - honing my craft among those who know far more about the art of poetry than I do - and it was an honor to have been able to participate at Anthem. I'd like to acknowledge and thank the 2014 Student Committee. Perhaps especially, Hannah, Spencer and Harrison. Thank you for allowing me to come, and making me feel welcome.
Attached is a link to the live recording of last night's event. To my followers who might be surprised at what you will hear from the other artists, please note that slam culture can be graphic. Let's just say I squirmed on behalf of my mom, who drove up for Mother's Day. At the same time, the polarizing collision of world views embodied in The Anthem Slam makes me all the more grateful to have been there. I hope it will not be my last time in SLO.
VIDEO: 2014 Anthem Poetry Slam