I've read through this whole thread several times and have some thoughts to share.
Scott: I understand that we need to focus on the WHO in order to inform the HOW. At the same time, based on the list we're currently looking at, I feel like the how and the who are deeply intertwined and it is difficult to separate them. My thoughts on the WHO:
Here in Austin, my community and I were deeply affected by the loss of Sheila Siobhan earlier this year. She was the mother of Shannon Leigh and the founder of Austin's youth slam organization, the Texas Youth Word Collective. She led teams to youth nationals for many years, even after Shannon's passing. Several members of both Austin Slam and Austin Neo-Soul were groomed under her leadership and now compete on our national adult teams.
However, in your proposal:
to - INITIALLY - "cap" any remembrances to "person who competed at a PSi event."
... plus the staff/former staff of PSI or NPS...
...it would in fact exclude Shelia from receiving a special remembrance, since she never competed at NPS, nor worked directly on the staff (as far as I know... unless she was involved in 06/07?). From my perspective, this seems like an unfair distinction.
Therefore, continuing to focus on the who, we now have two different lists, those who competed at NPS (or staff):
Will Da Real One Bell, Cheryl B(urke), Kent Foreman, Maria McCray, Michael Birkinshaw, David Blair.
And those who have been proposed but would not make the cut:
Sheila Siobhan (mother of NPS finals poet, vital figure in central texas slam), Gil Scott-Heron (father of NPS poet, spoken word pioneer), Melissa Heagerty (10 year supporter of slam, door person, superfan, owner of one of the largest chapbook collections in existence).
As Simone wrote in her initial post, the goal here is to create a list of "slam family members" we lost this year who had "national impact":
If you can recall the name of a slam family member whom we lost this year who had national impact --meaning that their name and/or deeds would be appropriate for the community to recall at a national event-- I would like to hear about it. I admit that we will not have time to memorialize any of these people in the way they deserve, but we would at least like to make sure we speak their names on the Finals stage and take a moment to reflect.
Based on all this, here's my thoughts on the HOW:
So... These names will be mentioned on finals stage prior to a moment of silence, or (as Karen suggested) listed in the program. It seems that we are facing the following questions/problems:
1) Is this just a list of names, or will it include information about each person's impact on our community?
2) In either case, does having a longer list of names lessen the impact of each individual name listed? (I.e., Is a long list bad?)
- To question #2, I would say "no". The affect of one person's life on another is so huge, it is far better to include each name than to worry about wasting a few seconds of stagetime. Each of us was affected by different people on these lists in many different ways. During the moment of silence, I know that I will be thinking of Shelia, because I was not well acquainted with any of the other names. It would be far worse to leave a name off or forget a name, than to risk having someone in the audience feel the double pain of not only losing a loved one, but then having the name of that loved one omitted from a special ceremony that should instead be honoring them. As Karen said, even a verbal roll call wouldn't take as long as a slam poem (even if it is a long list of names).
3) When dealing with a well known poet such as Gil Scott-Heron, are we co-opting someone else's loss into our slam show via a special remembrance? Would this be offensive to his memory or family?
- Now, it would certainly be in poor taste for PSI to co-opt a nationally known artist for a special mention if they had no impact on our community. No one wants that, nor to be perceived as having done that. For instance, it could be (probably foolishly) argued that Amy Winehouse deserves special mention (for some reason or another). But in this case, just because I don't personally know Gia, doesn't make her loss any less important to her and the local slam community out in LA. She's a part of our national slam family, her father was an inspiration on the national community, I think he deserves to be part of this list. Indeed, as damnyo4000 wrote, Gia would be honored by any special remembrance to her father. So we don't have to worry about any action we take being offensive.
By the same token, I don't think anyone could justifiably argue for Shelia to be excluded for a remembrance, just because she is the mother of a national poet, and only had an impact on the central Texas community.