Drunk Poetry: local event delivers laughs, hangovers

In preparation for the evening I arrived drunk.

It was just a couple of beers – nothing crazy, but enough to loosen up before catching a Lyft to Blue Lamp on Alhambra. When we arrived, the driver suspiciously read out the words on the marquee.

“Thursday night, Drunk Poetry?” We stared up at the backlit sign after parking on the corner.

“Yeah,” I told her. “This is the place.”

When I first heard about Drunk Poetry I envisioned an event in Seattle that I loved, called Cheap Beer and Prose. Plentiful Pabst and writers reading stories that made you laugh so unexpectedly you’d spit beer out on your friends made for a night I’ve always reflected on fondly. Drunk Poetry didn’t necessarily promise any of that, but I figured if we were all drinking, how serious could it be?

The correct answer is: c) not very serious.

The free event runs, loosely, like this: Local rapper and host of The Intersection, Andru Defeye, acting as a sort of debauched MC, works alongside his musical counterpart Spacewalker to host a series of contests in which audience members compete, with winners getting free drinks. Also, there are snacks.

As I took a seat at the bar the gathering already was and wasn’t what I had expected. There were a few tables scattered around with maybe 15 people, all very attentive, as Defeye spoke from the stage. “We’ll start soon but first I need to make some toast,” he told the room. I ordered a Miller High Life. The room began to fill with the smell of burning bread.

“You know we have a toaster here,” the bartender called to him.

“Wait, you mean this whole time you’ve had a toaster and I didn’t need to continually explain to my Uber drivers why I was loading a toaster into the car to go to a bar?”

“No, it’s your toaster from last time.”

After a group toast (with drinks) to toast (the bread), the “Gangster Rap Poetry Recital” began, with competitors reading raunchy rap lyrics as seriously as possible from the stage. The readings went from straightforward, to emotional, to referentially nuanced, and the room was full of laughter.

“I, too, will be quoting the great philosopher Ludacris,” a man spoke into the mic before launching into a powerful spoken-word rendition of “Area Codes.”

By the time the Dirty Haikus contest was in full swing, the room had ballooned from its dedicated early crowd to a bar full of presumably drunken poets. I spent several unsavory minutes at the hostage end of a one-sided conversation with a man who was wildly drunk, actually insane, or maybe just really coked up. When he eventually conceded that “this got weird fast,” I returned my attention to the stage.

Rather than a poet, a clown was trying to balance a chair on his hand in a gag that he may or may not have been pulling off. I wondered how we got here from there, but figured it didn’t really matter.

No one would remember this tomorrow, anyway.


Julianna Boggs on EmailJulianna Boggs on Twitter
Julianna Boggs
Julianna Boggs is a Sacramento-based journalist.

Comments are closed.