I haven’t been the best human being in the world when it comes to running a poetry slam. There are times that I have made questionable decisions, said questionable things, pissed people off locally and nationally. I won’t take any of those things back because of all of those experiences helped me grow up and be a better person.

Last night, I read from an attendee/competitor of a new poetry slam locally how much better organized it was from top to bottom, despite the venue being located at a storage unit and the sponsors a Christian church. This attendee went on to essentially criticize how I have run things over the last ten years on his Facebook wall, along with the attendee’s girlfriend who, and I am paraphrasing, said I was “self-serving, narcissistic, and talentless”. I’ll cop to being guilty of the first two now and again but the last one was a bit baseless.

I am constantly amazed on how people talk a good game about what this person isn’t doing and that person isn’t doing and yet aren’t doing it themselves. One person who didn’t like the way I did things actually did something about it and started her own poetry slam from 2003 to 2007. While I personally didn’t like the way she executed it, she actually did something about it and I will always respect her for walking the walk. What I do not respect are people who badmouth a show and an organizer and still participate in that organizer’s show. If you know the organizer is an asshole, and you call him an asshole behind his back, and you still participate in his show, then you are a bigger asshole. When I read things like this, it lets me know I’m making the right decision by walking away and makes me kick myself for not doing it sooner.

The slam has done a lot for this town. It also birthed and developed some amazing talent. There are some local poets that would not be where they are or who they are without the slam, as much as they would not like to admit that. You may bite my hand or call bullshit but in my heart of hearts, I know this to be incredibly true.

I’m always going to create a stage. Since it is no longer a slam, nor an open mic, I no longer have to tolerate people who are dishonest with who they are or within their art.

I hope whoever reads this decides to put their money where their mouth is, learn from my mistakes, and create a better slam in Orlando. I know Orlando still needs one, but needs new blood to start it and keep it going. I’ll hope you actually follow through.


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Also posted on Facebook:
    I’ll say this in English since I was there at the beginning. Your blog is absolutely correct jbradley, you are the Orlando Poetry Slam movement. Just because some loser wants to ride your coattails AGAIN, in an effort to try to get a reputation will never negate your dedication to one of the most important literary movements O-Town has ever seen. From the early days at UCF where you had a steady stream of amazing talent, to the being asked to find a new home by our downtown venue for NOT forcing BS Poets to edit their words, to the many Barnes & Noble all ages events, and to your dedication to bringing poetry to ill children at Arnold Palmer Kids Hospital, and OCPS through the creation of Slam-in-the-Box for kids, and supporting Pediatric AIDS through Naughty Poetry Night. YOU have stood as an example of FREE SPEECH and a beacon of poetic light in a town that was completely in the dark about the Spoken Word and void of a poetry movement.
    Everyone knows jbradley..who the fuck are you?


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About J. Bradley

J. Bradley's is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals including decomP, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. He was the Interviews Editor of PANK, the Flash Fiction Editor of NAP, and the Web Editor of Monkeybicycle. He is the author of the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), the novella Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012), and the graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), illustrated by Adam Scott Mazer. He is the curator of the Central Florida reading series There Will Be Words and lives at iheartfailure.net.

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