As Monday night rolled into Tuesday morning at Ralph’s Chadwick Square Diner, things were beginning to look up a bit for New Hampshire poet Sam Teitel. Monday morning had found Teitel dealing with the fallout from an article on MTV News which, in his opinion, had grossly misrepresented an open reading for political poetry that he and fellow Manchester poet Mark Palos had co-produced. The forum, which mostly presented liberal voices, was described by MTV as a rally to support Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul. From there, the better part of his day was spent fielding questions and concerns from his fellow poets, and interested news organizations, including the Telegram. (MTV has since amended some of the story, to clarify that the event was not organized to boost Paul.)
But as the clock ticked past midnight, the nuisance of politics and public relations had given way to art and silliness as Teitel bested reigning “Iron Poet” champion Bobby Gibbs of Worcester after a three-round poetry slam that centered on the “secret ingredient” theme, “The Mona Lisa.” (The secret ingredients are chosen by Ralph’s bartender Yosh Shartin, and must be incorporated into all three poems presented during the competition.) Teitel won the coveted title with a poem recounting a co-worker who attempted to teach him how to pick up women, and who called every woman he saw “Mona Lisa.” The poem was hilarious, and managed to rack up points from the judges.
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