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Weapons of Mass Didacticism 

Slam poets drop science on St. Louis

Slam poets are invading St. Louis. Try to remain calm. The RFT has learned that performance poets have chosen St. Louis as the site for the 2004 National Poetry Slam (NPS) championships. Seventy teams from across the nation and fourteen individual "storm" poets (poets unaffiliated with any team) will wield their lethal voices throughout the city Wednesday, August 4, through Saturday, August 7, until one team and one individual triumph. Reports have surfaced that the 2004 slam will be the largest in the event's fourteen-year history.

Fortunately, the RFT has gained access to NPS' most intimate plans through its Web site, www.dimbyville. com/nps2004stlouis/. Each team performs in two preliminary bouts on both Wednesday and Thursday at various venues on Laclede's Landing, in the Central West End and along Washington Avenue (a one-time $10 fee at the door each night covers all venues for that evening). Bouts begin at 8 and 10 p.m. and also include a storm-poet performance. The St. Louis team is running reconnaissance from Rum Jungle (618 North Second Street) on Wednesday and from The Drink (612 North Second Street) on Thursday. Michael O'Brian, president of Word in Motion, a nonprofit organization that is the foundation for NPS' covert operations, says that "St. Louis has a history of being a serious team with a strong and heavy message." Experts believe the team will kick some major poetry ass.

Team semifinals ($10 cover charge at all venues) and individual finals (also $10) will be held at 8 p.m. Friday throughout Laclede's Landing. The top four teams will wage slam-poetry war at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard; $20 admission). Judges are picked directly from the audience each evening -- you have been warned!

A slew of poetry events will be showcased Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon. After midnight the slam poets will gather to discuss their diabolical plans at Club Candela (326 South 21st Street) with an all-women's reading (Wednesday), an erotic slam (Thursday) and an international hip-hop showcase (Friday).

Exercise extreme caution when purchasing either a three-day pass for the Wednesday-through-Friday events and/ or your ticket to the finals -- the poets' mission is to overwhelm your senses until you cannot live without more poetry. May God save us all. Tickets are available through; call 314-443-4357 for more information. -- Amy Helms

Nice Pad
It's Lily Monster!

All this late-summer heat has to be good for something. It has to be; life's just not that cruel, is it? Apparently, what it's good for is water lilies. The Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400; admission is $1.50 to $7) features several varieties of water lilies in the reflecting pool outside the Climatron, and this is the time of year they really start growing. The giant Victoria cultivar will grow large enough to have a kid stand atop it and not sink; in fact, on Saturday, August 14, and Sunday, August 15, one kid per day will win the chance to play bullfrog and stand on a water lily for a photograph. Adults will have to enjoy from the sidelines, which can be done anytime between Saturday, August 7, and September 3. -- Paul Friswold


THUR 8/5

In the beginning was the Word. The Word is power, hope, loss, redemption, failure, success. The Word is eternal, and with the right Word, all things become clear. Speaking Our African Minds, a collection of poetry by local African-American schoolchildren, is proof that the Word, in all its myriad forms, continues to wield power and shape the future. The young authors of Speaking Our African Minds gather at the Vaughn Cultural Center (3701 Grandel Square; 314-615-3600) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for a book signing and to exult in the power of their words. The book is available through the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis for $10 and will increase in value when these authors are world-famous. -- Paul Friswold

Destination: Mad Art

Looking for a great vacation spot but also worried about the impending alien invasion that will shut down airports worldwide? (You knew about that, right?) Check out the Protecting Growth large-scale ceramic-and-glass exhibit opening at Mad Art (2727 South Twelfth Street; 314-771-8230) from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday, August 6 (through August 29), as a cheap (read: free) alternative to international/intergalactic travel. Artists Jay Cummings and Mandy Gerth have been given free reign to transform the gallery into "inter-related locations," according to the press materials, with each location relating to growth. Think of it as a trip from the concrete jungle to the ceramic-and-glass imaginary jungle, with a cash bar. -- Paul Friswold

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