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Googling voodoo

Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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Pittsboro, NC - Chatham Marketplace held its fourth poetry slam this weekend, and it was a subdued affair. Still vibrant, still pulsing, but lacking the frenzy of former events.

As always, Geoffery ran the show. Nowadays he is looking pretty corporate. Gone is the long hair, and the ripped knees in his jeans. But appearances can be deceiving, since he laid down a poem on homelessness and class in America which thumped the audience in the forehead.

The place was packed, again. Riana laid a poem on the crowd, with a confidence assist from Laura.

The pre-slam portion benefited from some newcomers, including Andrea. And Geoffery superimposed a haiku competition which drew in audience members like Mary. When she is not spinning verse about her dog, she is running Chatham Marketplace.

This slam was won by Gary Phillips, who is clearly the poet laureate of Chatham County. Before the competition began he delivered a snapshot of his Appalachian upbringing which was so intense, and so complete, that some of us simply scratched our heads and muttered, “No fair.”

Daylight savings time is upon us. The newly authorized sunlight shone down on the overcrowded porch in such a way that made us wish for blinds.

Volunteer judges stepped up from the crowd, including Hal, and Pierre, and a woman I have never seen. Hal lives in Moncure. He grew up on a river and currently holds the rope-swing championship title of all time. Pierre comes from the Peace Corps, and likes to camp at Shakori Hills rain or shine.

Geoffery is ready to conquer the upcoming Shakori Festival. He’s going to camp. And slam. And take in the music. And dance. I’m inclined to follow his lead, if for no other reason than to bury him on stage.

That didn’t happen at this event. With one new poem in hand on my way home from New Orleans, I was confident the phrase “Googling Voodoo” would take me places. No luck.

Some came for the Poetry Slam, some found themselves at Chatham Marketplace when the slam broke out, and stuck around.

Dreamland was playing next door in another part of Chatham Mills. It was an astonishing rendition of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, set in the 1920’s, with a musical overlay, which was written and produced by our local theatre folks.

Ellen Bland, who teaches theatre at Central Carolina Community College, has a knack for stimulating theatrical productions out of nothing. Give her a pair of shoestrings, and a bunch of musicians, and she will create an evening’s entertainment. Dreamland was awesome.

Show night, and slam night made for a packed grocery store. Surely both were a boost to the day’s receipts. And both were a tribute to the emerging arts scene which is poking through the surface of our community.

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