Las Vegas Slam Poet Andrew Clark Hall
Interview and Photography by Jorge Lara
VIM: Greetings Andy. How have you been? I've known you for perhaps close to 10 years and on March 7 you will be featuring along with the Nevada Arts Council 2013 Literary Arts Fellowship winner, Natalia Cortes-Chaffin at the next Pop-Up Poetry Feature Series. I am looking forward to filming your performance, what are you planning to read?
ANDREW CLARK HALL: During the reading I will read some new work and maybe a few slam/performance poems. A lot depends on the audience. I may do my favorite: Another Nautch In My Roodle which uses archaic language with lots of sexual innuendo. I wrote that using exercises by renown poet Richard Garcia. It's lots of fun to perform and Is think audiences dig it too.
VIM: You have a long history, performing here in Las Vegas. Which venues have been your favorite to perform? Any fond memories or recollections?
ANDREW CLARK HALL: Cafe Espresso Roma was our reliable venue fom the early nineties to 2003. It's also fun to say I shared the stage with the Killers. During the Rodney King riots, hearing Rodney J. Lee perform Gil Scott Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was a trip....Regular espresso denizens like myself, Keith Gandhi Jones Haubrich and William Vose provided some comic relief. It was a tight knit community with writers, singers, painters, and actors all hanging out...
VIM: You along with local poet Nathan Say are now co-hosting along with Megan Milligan at Word-Up at Grouchy John's. How was the inaugural first reading at the new venue?
ANDREW CLARK HALL: Our inaugural night at Grouchy Johns was a blast with long time hosts from the scene including Mike Kiewel, Mark Snyder, Nic Marco, Lana Hanson, Madeline Beckwith Rene Christy and Kari O'Connor to name a few.... It is nice to have such a diverse range of styles in our community. Grouchy Johns is a cozy little place with wild art, plenty of books, and great coffee and victuals...
VIM: Tell us a bit about your writing career? Do you recall your first writing experience? Walk us through some of your favorite pieces.
ANDREW CLARK HALL: In terms of writing, I really wanted to be a song writer.... I wrote lots of silly songs... The Sea Of Vomit... Was one I wrote in 1990 or 91. I started reading at Cafe Espresso Roma in 91 but didn't become a regular until 92. I had a long rant called The Fart of God.... I was trying to mimic William S. Burroughs.... I tried stand up comedy nights but bombed miserably.... Took the same material to poetry nights and got a positive response. I stopped writing songs because I wasn't a very good guitar player... And I ran out of chord progressions... Plus I wanted to put my attention to writing poetry and graduating college.
VIM: Slam poetry has come along way here in Las Vegas. How has it been performing throughout the years?
ANDREW CLARK HALL: Slam poetry has had difficulties taking off to the extent that it has in other cities... But last years team had great chemistry and broke through a lot of barriers. The scene has a loyal but small following. If people knew what fun these events were and how moving the art is, I think the slams would be packed...I pretty much didn't perform for five years since I was out of state attending grad school.... But being in front of an audience and knowing that I might make them laugh, think, cry or wretch.... Gives me an immense satisfaction.
VIM: As a teacher of English at UNLV, what would you most recommend to aspiring writers looking to compose their first poem?
ANDREW CLARK HALL: Aspiring writers should read a lot and write a lot. Don't worry about quality at first... You can revise later. Don't be afraid to suck or imitate.... Keep on writing and you'll discover your unique voice.... You have a whole lifetime, so get started.
VIM: What's next for Andrew Clark Hall?
Andrew Clark Hall: I've been getting back into performing, hosting and slamming.... And I hope to continue teaching and studying... I plan to continue my eccentric habit of copiously using ellipses...