What the Storm blew in

“No sweeter sound than justice through poetry!” – Pat Storm

One of the more ubiquitous phrases you hear at most national individual poetry slam competitions these days is “Storm Poet.” But what does that term refer to?

Time for multiple choice!

A) A reference to “storming the barricades” of poetry
B) A reference to poets “storming in” like the wind before anyone else can register
C) A reference to “Nerd Poets” who write poems about their favourite X Men character, Storm
D) None of the above
E) All of the above

You’re right! It’s a reference to one of poetry slam’s first wave of poets, Pat Storm.

“Pat Storm–No sweeter sound than justice through poetry! That’s Pat Storm’s motto. Born and raised on the lower east side of Manhattan, Storm prefers his words as hard as his old neighborhood. He now lives in the mountains of Tennessee writing, performing, and howling with the wolves.” (Bio, Southern Fried ’93)

Pat Storm was a contemporary to the likes of Patricia Smith, Lisa Martinovic, Brenda Moosy, Wammo, Reggie Gibson, Saul Williams, Alix Olson, Staceyann Chin, Hal Sirowitz,, Beau Sia, Shappy Sheaholtz and many, many more. (A full list could take up the entire blogpost)

I never had a chance to meet Pat so I turned to his former poetry teammate, dear friend and the person who coined the phrase “Storm Poet” (and slam legend in his own right), Danny Solis, to tell you about him.

“Pat Storm was a lover of life, breeder of wolves, a stunt man, a father, step-father, amigo, hermano and poet. Pat loved poetry and the slam but he hated the egos and obsession with the scores that sometimes come with it. I was lucky enough to be on two slam teams with Pat, one he coached, the other as a competing poet.

“Nobody came to rehearsal more prepared or worked harder than Pat. He was always willing to sacrifice to make himself, and thus the team, better. In slam, he had minimal individual ambition, he was always about the team. It was because of this that I felt it was a fitting juxtaposition that the name of such a consummate team player be used to designate unattached indie poets. I also wanted there to be a lasting story and awareness of a poet who really epitomized the saying coined by Allan Wolf, ‘The points are not the point, the point is poetry.’

“Pat had a huge heart. He was very protective of his friends and friends that were more like family. Of all the various jobs he held that he told me about, he said his favorite was as an escort for battered women returning to gather their things from the place they had lived with their abuser. I can imagine how comforted those women must have been. Pat was about 5’11’, 290 pounds, with a powerlifter’s frame (he was actually a competitive powerlifter for some years) going to pudge around the edges but still radiating intensity and his hatred of bullies. I can’t imagine the cowardly abuser that would’ve wanted any part of Pat Storm.

“Pat also had a great sense of humor. He was constantly joking and laughing and he loved irony, sarcasm and nonsensical humor equally. Gentle and patient with children and animals. Unafraid to give an egotistical adult a needed verbal comeuppance. I believe I got my fair share from him. Pat was one of my best friends in this life. I always think of him fondly, as a brother, compadre, great ally, amazing poet, lover and liver of life to its fullest.” (from Danny Solis)

“A native New Yorker and graduate of New York’s Performing Arts Academy, Pat Storm has appeared in over 40 plays, run his own off-broadway theatre (Duo Theatre), and shared the stage with the likes of Tom Waits, Lou Reed, Lydia Lunch and Allen Ginsburg. He began slamming for the Asheville team in 1992 and so far he’s helped in gaining 3 Regional Championships, a National Championship and a world title. When asked what his motivation was, Storm replied, “Moonpies are my life.” (Bio, SF ’94)

So when you take the stage at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, whether it’s as a “Storm Poet” or a venue rep, I encourage you to pause for a moment and think about the fleeting history of poetry slam, the legacy you would like to leave behind for yourself and the names of the poets who’ve taken to the stage before you to help build the groundwork of the amazing opportunity you get to take part in today including Pat Storm.

Pat Storm passed away in New York City in 2000.
Here’s a link to Pat’s poem from the documentary Slamnation entitled “My Friend Sean.”