Chris Ware is rolling.
After making the UrbSLAM 2013 team and taking second at Saint Louis Poetry Slam in July, Chris won the annual Moorish Festival slam in North St. Louis. With the wind at his back, Chris eyes a return to the UrbSLAM team slated to tour Southern Fried Slam, Rustbelt, and Slam nations.
Q1: You recently took 2nd place at Saint Louis Poetry Slam in July. Did you have any doubts about your chances for winning the Moorish Slam?
CW: I was confident in my ability to win. After taking second at the Saint Louis Poetry Slam, I had to re-evaluate my strategy in going into the Moorish Festival Slam. I wasn’t really doubtful per se, more so careful. It’s easy to become over-confident and make costly mistakes.
Q2: At what point during the night were you confident that you won it?
CW: Honestly, it was a nail-biter till the very end. You can never tell how a judge will score or what criteria they are looking for. As I progressed through the rounds, I never knew what the scores were, only that I was amongt the group that made it. But in that, I was focused more on presenting the poetry versus checking the scores, which worked in my favor. See, even though I was making it through rounds, I had it in my mind that I had the lowest score of those who moved on so I always felt like I was fighting from behind.
Q3: What did you win and what do you think the win will do you for you as a performer?
CW: I won 500 smackers! It’s exciting because I’ve never won anything that big before. What this does for me as a performer and poet is show how serious I am about my craft. Last year, I floated closely to the top tier of poets and performers without making the waves that I know I’m capable of. This year, I plan on making some noise. I’ve worked hard on my craft; writing, editing, taking critiques from other poets, reading everything I can; what this win does is show my progression and growth as a poet and artist overall.
Q4: How did you approach this competition mentally, strategically?
CW: I used two simple techniques: first, I needed to know my own material backwards and forwards. I took time to make sure I knew what I wrote, the tone I wrote it in, how I wanted it to be presented. This diminished my nervousness and reduced the chances I had of forgetting a piece in the middle of performing. Secondly, I paid close attention to the other poets and what they were saying and responded in-kind with my poetry. I also paid attention to the energy levels of the other poets as well. I’m typically a high energy, knee-jerking, white knuckle, in your face spitter of a poet and it doesn’t always do for me (or my poetry) what I need it to do. So, I got, well, “intimate” with the room, made love to it mentally, so to speak. When being “intimate,” one can’t always go in hard charging, rough and ridged. Strong as that is, it may not always get the job done and somebody will be left unsatisfied. It’s often necessary to finesse your way to glory. There was one piece I did, Madame Mustang, that I performed a little softer than I usually do and it scored big in the final round.
Q5. Will you apply a similar approach to competing at UrbSLAM?
CW: Oh yes! It’ll be my basic two-rule set: know my own material flawlessly then pay attention to the poets and the energy of the room
Q6: What was the illest, most memorable moment at the Moorish Slam?
CW: I suppose it would have to be the announcement of the winner! I mean, not only did I get cashed out, but I now know that the work that I’m putting in is paying off.