“Scratch and Dent Dreams,” Slam Poetry with Eric Darby

English: Ellen Deckwitz at the national champi...
English: Ellen Deckwitz at the national championship of poetry slam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I promised I’d post a favorite Slam poem or two, and since I’m pressed for time this morning I’ll bring you one of my favorites performed at the 2005 National Poetry Slam Individual Semifinals, by poet Eric Darby. Understand, this performance isn’t my style, but I get caught up in not only his presentation, but in his metaphors. I think this is done splendidly. Tell me what you think.

22 Replies to ““Scratch and Dent Dreams,” Slam Poetry with Eric Darby”

    1. One of my two brothers (not the blood kind) who is a poet himself is bothered by the style. He’s British though, so I forgive him. lol But seriously, I understand. You’ve seen enough of my videos to know that this isn’t my delivery style, and often I feel that such delivery makes me squirm just a bit because of its similarity to the style of oration used by certain politicians and preachers I have heard over the years. Those guys have a delivery that will hypnotize the masses, but their message was either false, full of selfish motives, or just plain empty.

      But then again, I hate. . . and let’s be honest here, I hate reading a great deal of modern poetry. So much of it is soul-less philosophy, dressed up with clever language. No matter how calmly or well it is read, it just bores me to screaming when I hear it.

      On the flip side, guys like this, whose style is something I normally don’t gravitate to, which in the worst hands comes off as dramatic grandstanding, really gets it. He has soul and spirit and authenticity in his words. Below, Stephen Kellogg has made a link to the words. I think that they should be lined differently, but only Mr. Darby can say how it should appear on the page. Indulge me, John, please. Read the words again, and see what you think. I think his style actually matches the amount of amazing metaphor and spirit in the poem. But I completely respect my beloved friends who just don’t find this their thing.


    2. I don’t object to the words — I found the poem itself to be good. It was the delivery that I didn’t care for. Not that I like dry, dull, monotone poem reading, which seems to be pretty much the mainstream way of reading poetry, but, rather, I found that the delivery distracted me too much, it was so dramatic that I often lost the thread of the poem.


    3. Gotcha. I can see that. I liked the feeling it gave me, but if I was in the audience, I think I would have been a bit confused, not having the ability to rewind the poem and listen again.


  1. David,
    I actually enjoyed it! Yes, there’s lots of charge to the delivery, as goes with a the venue, and while I don’t know that I’ll ever do a reading like that (not saying no 😉 ),I did enjoy it. I actually did go back to listen to it a second time. There’s an interesting, inspiring message in it. I wonder what others (John and Deborah included – sincere curiosity, not picking on y’all) would think of it only seeing it written down.

    Yet another interesting case of delivery potentially playing a large role in acceptance or appreciation of a poem.

    Ok I did a little digging to try and find the words.

    Look at the second answer there. It was the best place I could find the words. Written there, in that form, may stir up more questions. 🙂




    1. I’m really glad you liked it, Stephen. Please scroll up and check out the reply I made to John. I think it’s a matter of style, but in this case, this man’s style fits the poem. I found another reading of his online that I might include on the blog that has a more toned down delivery, but again, it’s fitting to the poem.

      The point I want to make by posting these things here is that we poets need to stop thinking that the only real poets are the ones who do it like we do, and if the material is authentic, and well written, we need to get past the barriers and realize that there are others, who otherwise might not be exposed to such good writing and craft, who would enjoy this very much. I just think poets have gotten stuck in their little academic circles in the last twenty or thirty years. We read too much to each other, and not enough to the world.


    2. Also, thanks for including the text! I think the line endings could use fixing, but I could reline it to please my eyes better. lol In any case, I think I want to get Mr. Darby’s permission to do a reading in my style of his poem. I hope he won’t mind.


    1. See, there is where you and I don’t quite see eye to eye. I know you prefer metered rhyme, but the lack of that does not negate it as poem. If it did, we would have to throw out most of what has been written in the last 60 years. But I always appreciate your comments.


  2. David,
    You said ” I think I want to get Mr. Darby’s permission to do a reading in my style of his poem. I hope he won’t mind”
    I hope you were serious, I’d like to hear you read it and then see the impact.
    All this talk (ok not just this talk) conjured up the makings of a poem… but at almost 3am it’ll have to wait for another day.

    For now I’ll give you the title: Armpits? Who knew?
    I actually started it Tuesday night on the way home from work… Along with Bartender that I just posted as well as A Scent drifts through posted Tuesday night… wow guess it was a productive drive home. 😀 anyway.. hope I can write it out and post it soon and see if y’all catch what I mean.

    til then G’nite



    1. I will try to check those poems out as soon as I can, and I cannot wait to read “Armpits.” That would be a truly Whitmanesque poem, as he wrote of the scent of his armpits being an “aroma finer than prayer.”


  3. David,
    So, I’m not the only one up late. I should have been working on the armpit poem… alas, I thought my daughter was going to be home sooner but I checked and the new batman movie is loooooong… so I did a little reading and commenting on other blogs… I even wrote a little poem in a comment response to someones poem. Guess I’ll go post that on my blog and then pry myself away from the computer.




    1. And I found the text of the poem too. Interestingly enough I think it’s so well written that it would be a smashing success even if one were to give it a low key presentation. The equivalent of a song that could be remixed with a slower acoustic feel and still sound amazing.


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