“Tonight we got cash money. What the f--k indeed,” announced hostess Taylor Weech to the screeching crowd gathered in the main ballroom of AClub last night. Weech and 50 or so others were there for the latest installment of the Spokane Poetry Slam finals. Said cash was a welcome addition — previous slams featured only candy as prizes. That, plus the live music, booze, a rowdy audience, and the rise of an unlikely champion made for an event that was less “poetry” and more like a sporting event.
But slams truly are the sporting events of the poetry world. Poets perform one piece in each of two rounds. The pieces are strictly timed and contestants lose points for going over. Random audience members grade each poet, and scores are announced immediately afterward, making for a pretty intense showdown.
Last night's seemed especially so. It was the penultimate round of the finals, meaning many poets had already been eliminated and the competition was getting steep.
There was a lot of love, some deep-seated hate and a nice splash of humor. After the scores were tallied, however, the night produced a surprising victor. Molly Fitzpatrick, an 18-year-old Running Start student who often reads about her activism work, beat some of the area’s more established poets (including one from Spokane’s first poetry slam team), despite having written and performed poetry for less than a year.
“I did not think I was going to win,” says Fitzpatrick (pictured), who plans on using her $20 prize money to buy food. Despite the starving artist lifestyle, Fitzpatrick says she’ll keep doing her poetry in the area. She’s going to Eastern next year on scholarship to double-major in psychology and women’s studies.
You can check out Fitzpatrick and others in the final final round on June 14 at 7:30 pm at Aclub, where winners will duke it out for the championship and an unspecified cash prize.