Thursday was the last Broken Speech Grand Slam ever. We had a great mix of poets in the last show, some new, some veterans, four previous Grand Slam champions (including myself) and somehow, I won the whole fucking thing.

My approach to our last show was to do well enough to perform in every single round (the format was 10 poets, cut to seven poets, cut to four poets, scores were reset to zero after each round). The draw was kind to me for the first (sixth) and that allowed me to get a feel for the judges. My first poem, “Quadriplegic“, got a 26.8, putting me at the end of the first round at sixth place, just good enough to move on. The second round I did a new poem that I wrote after talking to my ex-wife for the first time in person since the divorce hearing called “No More Merlot”, got a 28.9, putting me in third place at the end of the round, just good enough to make the final round. Before going onto the last round, I was hemming and hawing about doing a poem I had a hard time re-memorizing and fucking it up during rehearsals and almost did a poem from Dodging Traffic but I stuck to my guns and did “solving the circumference of simile” for the first time since 2006 and get a 29.7, putting me at first with two poets left. The poet that came after, Ronin, decided to go punk rock on everyone and do a poem that gave him a 4.5 point time penalty. The last poet, Curtis Meyer, did a signature poem that I knew was going to get a 30 as long as he didn’t go over time. I damn near collapsed when he went over time.

I took the stage one more time to say a lot of things, to plug nights around town, to look at what I’ve done, what I’m walking away from, and where I’m going. I never received so much love in my life from so many people and I cried. All the emotions that weren’t there hit me all at once. It was a proper send off to the end of a decade of running a poetry slam.

Brian Feldman, performance artist extraordinaire, took this photo. I'm taking the stage after the results were announced and clearly starting to cry.

Next month, shows are a comin’. Click the links for more details.

May 4 – The Encyclopedia Show (Chicago, IL)

May 5 – Cinco de Awesome (Chicago, IL)

May 10 – There Will Be Words #1 (Orlando, FL)

May 20, 26, and 28 – Excerpts (Orlando Fringe Festival)

Hippocampus Magazine put out a teaser for their first issue coming out May 1, which you can check out here.

Wufniks published the sexiest (and only) Easter poem I’ve ever written here.


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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

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Broken Speech Poetry Slam, performance calendar, performances, poetry, publication news


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