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Bezerkeley Slam

Let's count our blessings that hosts Dani Eurynome and Charles Ellik have the considerable organizing talents to keep it going week after week. Of course an abundance of love in the Bay Area spoken word scene makes it worthwhile. And appreciative audiences don't need reminding to awaken themselves to the beauty of live performance happening in front of them. We're aware of how good we've got it. Even a torrent of tongue-in-cheek puns will make the most critical listener crack a smile.

As usual they've got open mic presenters to warm up the little stage at Starry Plough. Not to mention the swingin' house band, Three Blind Mice, with their jazzy improvisation -- all for our listening pleasure. With pints flowing from the bar and pizza from the kitchen, get there early and make a night of it. They make the nation's top poets accessible, and come time for the National Poetry Slam qualifiers each May, they bring you a series of fierce competitions not to be missed.

During the semi-finals and finals, expect a full house of almost 200 slam buffs, friends and fans who sometimes chant familiar lines along with the poet. Excitement can build to a sweat-soaked frenzy. But beware. When a slammer packs a wallop, she might get you right in the gut -- these guys have a knack for telling it like it is, with such smooth delivery that you won't know it's a tear-jerker until you find yourself choked up at the end.

And when the content isn't all it could be or the speaker gets carried away with his own bravado, all is not lost. The timbre of an orator's voice rising in crescendo might still redeem. Well, hey, everybody's got issues. Slam poets just practice the art of projecting their inner demons as puppeteers do with shadow play. Not for nothing have the tools of oral tradition stayed alive through the age of print. Why else would we go out to witness them seethe and spit. You can feel the spray from the other side of the room.

This isn't television. This is a place to hear real voices tell of sickness and death, orgasms, failed medication, love. The Berzerkeley Slam's banner with big sparkly letters and that jump off the red background, forms a backdrop for in-your-face howls of the brokenhearted, and stumbling, nerve-wracked writers to lament society's ills. Maybe we're feeling the politics tonight, maybe not. Leave those catatonic states at the door and be prepared to cheer and yell.

Bezerkeley Slam
Every Wednesday @ 8:30 pm
The Starry Plough
3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (near Ashby BART), 510.841.2082
[email protected]
$7 door