Passion, frustration released at Tahoe Poetry Slam

North Lake Tahoe Bonanza
By Pati Sainz de Rozas

Last Friday evening, Sierra Nevada College hosted the sixth annual Tahoe Poetry Slam at Patterson Hall. The evening was organized by English department chair June Saraceno, and professional slam poets Chas Jackson and Denise Jolly served as emcees.

“I think it went great,” said Saraceno. “The hosts rocked it. They were amazing.”

Ten participants competed in the first round, but only six made it to the second. The judging panel was made up of five people from the audience, scoring on performance, content and originality.

In the end, Do Dirty — aka Traver Janes — from Modesto, Calif., was crowned 2012 Tahoe Slam Champion of the Year, with a score of 27.8 points. First prize was a $300 check.

Janes is a full-time artist and hip-hop singer who got his nickname from playing with his mother’s guns as a little child, according to him.

His first poem consisted of an emotional piece dedicated to his mother. It expressed his gratitude to her for raising him and his sister with dedication and love, despite the physical abuse she suffered from her husband.

“I was raised by a woman. She was more a man than he was,” Janes read, the paused to take a deep breath, emotionally overwhelmed by the passion of his words. “She wasn’t human, she was a supermom.”

Janes not only was victorious in SNC’s slam, but he also placed first at Lake Tahoe Community College’s poetry slam on April 26.

“I started poetry four years ago,” Janes said in an interview after the slam. “I wrote a poem with my sister to perform together as a team piece and she ditched me. I didn’t care, I stayed and I performed it by myself anyway. Ever since then I couldn’t stop.

“I want to express and inspire.”

Second place and a $200 cash prize went to SNC student Marco Maynard, whose score was 27.1 points.

With a score of 26.6 points, third place and a $100 prize was earned by Kyle Lutkemuller, aka The Stand-Up Guy, from Auburn, Calif.

Lutkemuller was competing for his first time ever, and came to SNC’s slam to represent the Auburn Hip Hop Congress.

“We try to spread hip-hop in a positive way,” said Lutkemuller. “We define rap as rhythm and poetry. We bring a whole other side of hip-hop that a lot of people don’t know. We try to change the stigma of what people hear on the radio. Hip-hop involves poetry, art, music.”

“There was a lot of politically charged poetry — I really respected that,” Saraceno said. “The content of the poetry wasn’t just about me and my lonely sad life. It really showed engagement for the world.”