Larry Holgerson is a writer, a caregiver and a “this, that and the other.” Most days he adorns himself in jeans and t-shirts as he goes about the various tasks of his day.
Some people, however, don’t know the everyday Holgerson. In fact, some people may not even know him by his real name. They would better know him as Booger and, as such, he would likely be wearing silver cowboy boots and tie dye.
And Booger is a slam poet.
“It’s a persona. It’s personality plus,” he said.
Booger, in addition to three others, is a slam master for a local slam poetry contest at the Bean Cycle and Matter Bookstore every first Friday of every month, making this Friday at 8 p.m. the next battle.
“It’s the best free performance in town,” Booger said.
Slam poetry began in the ’80’s in Chicago as a new wave of performance poetry, and, has since made its way around the country into smoke-filled bars and vibrant cafes.
“It’s a dynamic art,” Booger said. “It’s about presentation, it’s not written. It’s 50 percent poetry and 50 percent presentation.”
And the audience is expected to participate as well, he says. It’s as much about the poet as it is those listening.
Donations are also part of the show, as audience members are encouraged to chip in for the winning poet’s post-victory celebration.
But donations don’t always end up being of a monetary sort, as the jar usually ends up with Twinkies, bike parts, make-up and other random contributions, Booger says.
The real sh**
Paul Skogerboe competed for the first time the first Friday in April and won fourth place. His style has a rap-like rhythm to it, which, according to Booger, is blossoming among the college-age crowd.
“It’s a good way to express myself,” Skogerboe said. “It’s self-reflection, expression, you know, yada yada.”
Skogerboe has been in rap groups for three years and finds there are plenty differences between rapping on stage and performing spoken word before an audience.
“This is a lot harder. It’s totally different,” he said. “It’s more real, really.”
And after attending contests, he found his initial assumptions about slam poetry were quickly swept away.
“I thought it was great . people were really speaking their mind,” he said. “You would think poetry is something rhyming, but none of them did that. It was really unique.”
Skogerboe has only begun to scratch the surface of slam poetry, he says, and plans on performing more pieces in the future.
“I write about everything I think about,” he said. “Screwed-up shit in the world.”
“Slam poetry is really social commentary on various topics,” Booger said. “What people see as relevant says a lot about society.”
Jessica Wacker has competed in a few slam poetry contests and watched various others while living in Chicago. She says slam poetry in Fort Collins is different than in big cities, but the topics vary just as much here as they do anywhere else. And, she says, the best part about this type of poetry reading is that anyone can do it.
“It’s really coming off the street,” Wacker said.
The academia part of poetry is taken out, Booger says, and a raw, theatrical art form takes its place.
“It’s exhilarating . a chance to be much more interactive,” Wacker said. “It’s a sense of sharing.”
In the Fort Collins scene, Booger says there’s a wide variety of slam poets. And he is excited about the increasing participation from college students and the packed houses he continues to see on competition nights.
But, mostly, he is just excited about the art itself.
“I like to dig down deep for something that will stick to ya,” Booger said. As for Wacker, she just looks forward to each and every time she can “find a mic and yell into it.”
Staff writer Jessi Stafford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.