Anyone who has stepped up to a microphone in front of a raucous crowd of strangers and delivered a performance that could be judged and perhaps jeered (and no, we're not talking about karaoke here) knows the peculiar anxiety and exhilaration of competing in a poetry slam. And no matter how some may roll their eyes at the Gong Show atmosphere of open-mike night at the local coffeehouse, the concept of the "slam" has done more to restore the excitement, the music, the sheer sense of enthusiasm and life to poetry than countless M.F.A. programs, anthologies, or films about the Beat Generation.
Bay Area poetry slammers make a triumphant return.
While the Bay Area may forever live in the shadow of the latter, three local slam teams have shed more light on the already burgeoning local scene by scoring an unprecedented sweep in the national slam finals last month in Chicago, where they captured three of the top four places. The San Francisco and San Jose teams tied for first, while the Oakland team took third. Slam competition has progressed to the point where all four team members are expected to work together and really complement each other, and this Friday provides a rare opportunity to see the three winning teams in action, at "A Victory Celebration Blowout," a tribute performance and celebration of Bay Area supremacy. Among the winners performing will be S.F. slam team members Ariana Waynes, Eiten Kadosh, Big Poppa E, and Seeking; distinguished S.F. slam team alumni Beth Lisick and Justin Chin will also appear. The show begins at 9 p.m. at the Transmission Theater, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $5-7; call 621-1912. If you get so pumped up after seeing them that you want to try for a slot on next year's slam team, you won't have to wait too long: Competition to determine that team begins two nights later, when Seeking hosts the first of his monthly slams at the Justice League, Sunday, Sept. 12.