Have some stuff from the weekend to write about but I'll hold off as whoever's reading this today is likely only here for one thing: my take on tonight's Finals.
First, how's it going to work? It's a tricky balance of testing the poets' stamina while ensuring an entertaining show for the audience. Five rounds of poetry for a total of 36 poems! That's rough! To make the team, you need a total of six strong poems, five for tonight plus the one from semi-finals that cannot be repeated. This is mainly to avoid the one-to-three-poem wonders that populate the slam scene, reading the same shit year after year and never moving forward.
Each of the first three rounds is clean slate elimination, simulating the Nationals experience of everything riding on one poem. The idea here is to weaken the strategy of opening big and coasting on that one score. This mainly affects the one-trick ponys.
The order in the first round is drawn at random, based on placement in the semi-finals. ie: Dawn, Lynne and Marty draw from the 1-3 slots in the first round as a result of coming in third in their respective semi-finals. In a nine poet first round, it's quite likely one of them will be eliminated, simply on the basis of score creep. Unless Dawn goes first, my guess is Lynne doesn't get out of the first round. She blew her best jumpstarter poem, Elemental Woman in the fourth round of her semi to get past Mara and this is where it will come back to bite her.
The next three rounds are clean slate, with previous scores determining the order of the following round, from low-to-high. In the second round, Dawn will likely be near the top of the order, along with Shawn and Marty, the three of them fighting off elimination. Shawn, with the least to lose (he's already on Urbana) but the most to prove will probably go freestyle in this round to keep himself in the running. Claudia and Omar become the wild cards in this round as I expect the scores will still be fluctuating greatly midway through and Claudia ends up on the short end of a score dip.
Third round, things get interesting as everyone's still fighting for their lives. This is the round Roger dips into the middle of the pack, Dawn and Marty pour it on and Shawn comes up short.
Fourth round is clean slate, low-to-high again, but now it's not elimination. Both scores count here and there's six poets competing for four spots. Figure Dawn, Omar, Marty, Roger, Shappy, T'ai with T'ai and Roger on top and leading off the final round, Marty, Shappy, Dawn, Omar closing it out. Top four ends up being T'ai, Roger, Omar, Dawn, Shappy, Marty.
Whew. That all just played out in my head as I wrote it [with one revision after re-reading it]. Not sure what I think. My honest preference from this mix of nine would look more like Shappy, Omar, T'ai and Dawn, with Roger as alternate. My ideal team, going back to the semi-finalists, would have been Omar, Mara, Sabrina and Ed with T'ai as alternate.
So there you have it. I'm sure I'm off on the round-by-round but I think the final four will be pretty close. Of course, I was WAAAAAAY off in my semi-finals predictions so we'll see.