Thursday night’s Slam, Bam, Thank You Ma’am at the Pen and Pencil Club gave us a glimpse (and taste) of Frank Messina’s ginormous baseballs, and saw many in the audience growing a pair of their own. Excuse us for our crudeness, but there’s something about this guy that just makes us feel ballsy. Maybe it was the fanaticism, the flute, or just the raw poetic energy of the night, but whatever it was that was so inspirational, we liked it.
Senior Editor for PBQ, Paul Siegell, gave a glowing introduction before inviting Messina to the stage, where it was evident he felt at home, despite it being his first time at the P&P. He shared with us that’s one of the things he likes about cities like Philadelphia: you think you’ve seen it all, but next thing you know you’re walking down some small, hidden-in-plain-sight side street and stepping into the oldest continuously operating press club in America.
Unfortunately, the Phillies are not on his list of favorite things about Philadelphia, Messina being a die-hard Mets fan (for which, as we’ve already mentioned in a previous post, we forgive him). However, if there’s any city, any people that understand and identify with Messina’s dedication to a sports team, it’s Philadelphia and its citizens.
Though there may have been some Phillies fans in the audience, by the end of the night it was the poetry that made fans of us all. After introducing the flute player who would be accompanying him while he read (seriously, how cool is this guy?!), Messina dived right into selections from two of his books, Disorderly Conduct and Full Count: The Book of Mets Poetry. Some in the audience had been present at the Drexel reading earlier in the day, and Frank apologized for repeating some of the poems, but explained that he feels the poems take on completely new feelings with the addition of the flute. We couldn’t agree more, the poems he had read earlier changing not only in their presentation, but effect as well. The rhythm of the words felt familiar, some of Frank’s lines unmistakably unique, but the emotions the combination of the spoken word and flute elicited were previously unexperienced.
Intern Jessica Laird later reflected on the experience, writing, “I had never heard spoken word with any sort of music before. I thought that the flute would be distracting, but it only further enhanced the experience and let the audience truly feel the poetry. The words reached their true potential and were able to hit a spot within the soul of the listener.”
Our soul’s still soaring at the reading’s conclusion, Andrew Keller took the stage and hosted yet another unforgettable Slam. Among the highlights: Talk of duct-taped nipples, Clue, kitten-filled apocalypse subway rides, iguana doctors, and iguana belly buttons (do they have belly buttons??). As always, prizes were awarded and we even had three Slam virgins read! It was a night of creativity and revelry, and we can’t wait to repeat the fun on May 23.
Many thanks to Frank Messina, and to all who came out. We look forward to seeing you at our Perch Pub Reading May 14!