Lots of Merlot and a man from Glasgow…

man on scooter in French city

Dear DorkyMum,

Well, they weren’t kidding when they called it the Coupe du Monde — The World Cup of Slam Poetry.  Now in it’s fifth year, there are competitors here from 16 countries, including Gabon, Brazil, Portugal, Russia and the Seychelles.  We are indeed a Rainbow Nation of Slammers.

The whole event is being run by a wiry man with a styled afro named Pilote.  He rides around on the narrow, hilly streets of the the 20th arrondissement on a banged-up scooter with a wrap-around roll cage, dashing from venue to venue, always smiling.  This is a big cultural event for this part of Paris — there are banners everywhere and a local elected woman politician showed up to help officially get things kicked off in an opening ceremony last night at the Place Frehel.  We drank Merlot and cheered. Continue reading

Bon voyage DorkyDad!

A view of Paris including the Eiffel Tower

Dear DorkyMum,

Well, the day has almost arrived.  Tomorrow morning I board an Air France flight to Paris, and tomorrow evening I compete in the first knock-out round of the World Cup of Slam Poetry. The first heat will be a tough one — the United States, Canada, Brazil and Scotland. If this were football, I think I know how it would go.  Only two of us will go through to the semi-finals on Thursday. And this isn’t football.

How did I get here? The truth is, by accident. You will recall how engaged I was in the Free Fringe Spoken Word activities last August. It was fantastic, and just as an aside, it is people like Peter Buckley Hill and Richard Tyrone Jones who keep the true spirit of the Fringe alive and burning bright. I decided to go listen to the last Slam of the season — Utter Has Talent — and cheer on my good friend Bram Gieben. The stakes were high — Slam Champion of the Free Fringe, a paid gig in London and a pound of sausage meat. At the last minute one of the scheduled competitors didn’t show up. I was asked to fill in and, well, I won. That led to an invitation to compete in the Scottish National Slam Championships in Glasgow this March as part of the Aye Write Festival. My greatest hope that night was to make it out of the first round. Something strange happened again that evening, though, and I was somehow declared the winner.

So now I am off to Paris. More specifically, the 20th arrondissement, home to the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery where Chopin, Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Moliere and Jim Morrison all presumably rest in peace. Wikipedia describes the neighborhood as “an old working-class area now in rapid transformation.” Just what it is transforming to is less clear, though they do add, “this gritty area is probably going to be on of your main night-crawling venues.”

Someone named Gwen is to meet me at the airport, but I have no idea where I will be staying. Apparently friends have been asked to stick random poets in their garrets. But I am off for a grand adventure, the sort of thing I couldn’t possibly have imagined just last summer. The World Cup of Slam, 17 nations battling for the crown, and for the first time in the six-year history of the event, Scotland is represented.

Let’s get it on.

All my love, DorkyDad


Photo by Andrea Maschio on Unsplash

Continue reading