Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tennessee Williams Festival 2012: Late Night Events

I attended two late night events at the Tennessee Williams Festival.

  • Poetry Slam
  • Lafcadio Hearn


The Poetry Slam was held at Café Istanbul in the Bywater with the very energetic and funny Chuck Perkins as Master of Ceremonies. There were ten or so participants, each performing a poem that he or she had composed. Quite a few of the poems focused on marginalized people, such as gays/lesbians and teens in special education.

The most entertaining performance, however, was by a woman named Sunshine, who violated the performance rules. She used props (no props allowed) and she recited something that rhymed but that couldn't be called a poem. It was a free-wheeling rhyme that she was creating on the spot. Sunshine also exceeded the 3-minute time limit.

Sunshine's performance consisted of blowing up long balloons from a balloon cart (no props!) to shape a woman based on the preferences of Chuck Perkins (the volunteer!), all the while creating this free-wheeling rhymed speech. Did Chuck want his woman to be brunette, blonde, red-headed, or chocolate? Chuck, an African-American, preferred chocolate. What kind of legs did Chuck prefer for this woman? What kind of arms? What kind of torso?

The rhyme went something like this:

Now, watch me! You see,
With these balloons, two,
I twist them into
A chocolate woman for you!

Now, what does she need?
Why, surely, a head!
So here's a fine head for her,
Now take her to bed!

Of course, I don't remember the words of the rhyme, so I'm making this up, but the rhyme was very much like this. It really was that silly. It was NOT A POEM!

So, Sunshine - having violated the no props rules, having violated the 3-minute rule, and having violated the rule that you had to do an actual POEM - was finally shooed off the stage! She really was funny, though! Sort of like a clown who produces some comic relief in the midst of the more serious poems about marginalized people!

Also, I have to give lots of credit to Chuck Perkins, who is masterful as an M.C., no matter who is performing!


This late night event was also held at Café Istanbul in the Bywater. It consisted of reading passages about New Orleans by the 19th Century writer Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904). There were also two burlesque performances - one by an alligator and one by a crab, performed by Trixie Minx of Fleur de Tease - and a dance by the Hip-ocrisy Belly Dancers.

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