WHAAM Slam Makes a Hit at Busboys
On Friday, December 8th, 10 poets stood behind the mic at Busboys and Poets – at the 14th & V location – to wow the audience in a “WHAAM SLAM.” This event was created as this year’s annual collaboration of Busboys and the National Gallery of Art’s endeavor to combine spoken word with artistic creation.
The creative works for the night came from the gallery’s “Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective” exhibition. The pieces chosen included the late artist’s early pop paintings based on advertisements and comic-book treatments of war and romance.
Battling for a $500 grand-prize, the poets spent the first two rounds reciting poems based on their own interpretations of pre-assigned Lichtenstein pieces.
Round one resulted in varying storylines dabbed in both struggle and comedic relief. Clint Black used Litchtenstein’s piece, “Hot Dog,” to tell the story of a young boy with baseball dreams, tragically battling an alcoholic father. Droopy Anderson used Litchtenstein’s “M-maybe” piece to simulate a conversation between he and his fictional girlfriend where he provides her with reasons, glossed in hip-hop lyrics, as to why he had to stay behind at the studio last night.
As round two ensued, the intensity increased. Five judges who were chosen at random, decided the fate of the competitors while trying not to be swayed by a crowded audience who were very vocal about scoring decisions.
After conquering four poets in round one, the remaining six challengers went head-to-head reciting haikus based on the works of art. A best-out-of-three competition in round two left three poets standing for the gold.
In the final round of the night, the poets were able to recite a piece from their personal collections of work.
Clint Black and B. Sharise gave standout performances, as they both shared equally provocative perspectives of their experiences as inner-city schoolteachers.
At the end of the night, an elated B. Sharise, who worked as a teacher for nine years and is currently a member of the Busboys and Poets staff, was awarded the grand prize as she likened her students to soldiers in war, battling their grave environment in an often hostile school system.
Not only did the night provide a visual retrospective from an iconic artist, it featured literary perceptions of life, love and culture. It was indeed another proud collaboration for Busboys and Poets and the National Gallery of Art.
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