BY BILL NEVINS
NEW MEXICO — Slam Poet/Freedom Fighter Pat "Velvet Hammer" Payne led her sisters to triumph in mid-June at Taos, as women poets swept all Taos Poetry Circus competitions held this year.
Payne defeated hard-battling Nuyorican Poets hero Willie Perdomo in a split decision to win the World Heavyweight Championship Poetry Bout for a second time. Payne stunned the crowd by stepping to the mike in one round dressed in a breast-fetish corset suggesting the goddess Diana and acting out an emotionally wrenching poem told in the voice of a victimised young woman who saw herself as divinely beautiful all the same.
Always a wild time, the 22nd Annual Taos Poetry Circus (TPC) featured poets from across the country and around the world, slamming, displaying their hard-won poetry chops, and generally having a damn good time in places like the El Taosena Lounge, the Cafe Tazza, and even on side jaunts to Taos Pueblo or Stagecoach Hot Springs deep in the Taos Gorge.
Erin Badhand, TPC CEO, did a fine job of pulling all the madness together for a very pleasant two weeks, with TPC founders and guiding lights Anne MacNaughton and Peter Rabbitt, weaving in and out of the proceedings with humour and light.
Pat Payne, a crusader against police violence, and Willie Perdomo, a chronicler of triumph in mean New York City streets, were well paired. Also participating in this year's Poetry circus were such noted poets as the hilarious straight-edge satirist Taylor Mali and Laguna Pueblo's revered truth-singer Lee Francis.
The 2004 Taos Poetry Circus and World Heavyweight Championship Poetry Bout are anticipated with impatient glee. Who will go up against the Velvet Hammer next year? See <http://www.wpba.com> for more information.
From Green Left Weekly, July 9, 2003.
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