Say lady say

The all-female poetry event will slam into its new home tonight.

Courtney McLean practices some songs Sunday in preparation for a Punch Out Poetry show on November 2 at the Bryant Lake Bowl.  McLean will be performing with her band, Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls.

Courtney McLean practices some songs Sunday in preparation for a Punch Out Poetry show on November 2 at the Bryant Lake Bowl. McLean will be performing with her band, Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls.

Sarah Harper

What: Punch out Poetry: Unplugged and Uncensored

When: Nov. 2. doors at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m.

Where: Bryant Lake Bowl

Cost: $7 preorder, $9 on the day of the show

A local slam poet did an unofficial survey on how judges were rating female poets versus male poets at slam events. Cole âÄúInkyâÄù Sarar began to see that judges consistently gave female slam poets lower scores.

So rather than sit around and complain about it on her blog, Minnesota Microphone, Sarar created a poetry slam just for women. After two and a half years, that event, Punch Out Poetry, will expand into its new home at the Bryant Lake Bowl.

At slam poetry events, judges randomly drawn from the audience rate poets based on whatever criteria they choose âÄî content, performance style, their shoes, whatever âÄî on a scale from 0.0 to 10.0.

âÄúItâÄôs not just that some performers are better than other performers,âÄù Sarar said, trying to explain the gender disparity.

Women who performed outside of the close-to-cliché subject areas of sexual comedy and victim drama tended to be judged even more harshly at poetry slams, Sarar found.

This judging style doesnâÄôt exactly welcome diversification of talent.

âÄúPoetry slams in the Twin Cities have a lot of dudes on stage,âÄù Sarar said. âÄúWomen will come, and maybe get on stage once, and not come back.âÄù

Sarar sees the lack of female representation extending to a variety of art forms. Punch Out Poetry is a response to problems in the spoken word scene, but itâÄôs not just about the poetry. The slam component of the evening will only take up about half of the event. The rest will be a showcase of women in other areas of the arts.

In December, Sarar will feature women puppeteers. And in January, female comedians will tentatively take a turn. At tomorrow nightâÄôs events, three rounds of slam poetry will be punctuated by two musical features.

Courtney McLean, local âÄúnaughtybillyâÄù banjoist, will break up the serious slamming with a bit of her musical comedy. Audience members might hear her song, âÄúWhen Baby Becomes Legal,âÄù about McLeanâÄôs (joking, of course) plans for the coming-of-age of a baby she knows.

âÄúYou get a lot of poetry that is not funny, so [my music] is a definite change of pace,âÄù Mclean said.

The other musical feature is the acoustic duo Two Lions, a band whose most recent accolade is a pair of diplomas from MinneapolisâÄô Watershed High School, where they started their band for a senior project.

As opposed to the open, airy art space of Echo, the Bowl is a true theater, where the audience faces forward, in the dark. ItâÄôs also in Minneapolis, which bodes well for attendance, considering Punch Out PoetryâÄôs Lowertown, St. Paul location was an obstacle to potential audience members. Oh, and at the Bowl, the crowd can buy booze.

âÄúItâÄôs always a bonus when your audience is a little tipsy,âÄù McLean said.