The Rangers are in the toilet; the Cowboys are teetering on its rim. Dallas needs a winner. What's a sports fan to do? Try poetry.

Dallas' entry in the National Poetry Slam Competition held recently in Seattle narrowly edged out Los Angeles 113.3-113.2 to take first place in a field of 56 teams and bring home the trophy, which resembles a sword buried into three books.

OK, so it's not the Lombardi Trophy. Then again, only God knows when Dallas will see that thing again.

Coach Clebo Rainey led this year's team, made up of poets Kuntaq, U.N.I.verse, GNO, Amy "Catfish" Weaver and alternate Rock Baby. (Weaver isn't really called Catfish, as far as we know, but Buzz figured she needed a cool name, too.) The team members will split a $2,000 prize.

Team Dallas took the prize by showing up to play every day, taking it one slam at a time and remembering that there's no "I" in team, unless you're talking free verse, then it can be spelled any damn way you please.

Actually, they took it by reading their own works as individuals and teams before an audience of 2,000 at a Seattle theater from whose members five judges were selected, Rainey says. And just what does the coach of a poetry team do? He's part scout, part stage director, part strategist.

"Just like a coach at a football game," Rainey says. "It's pretty much the same thing...Slam is a blood sport."

If you listen closely, you can hear the faint thump-thump sound of Tom Landry spinning in his grave. On the other hand, by the end of this NFL season, Rainey may get an offer to wear a star and Nike swoosh. At least he knows how to win.

For now, he's just proud to bring home the trophy and busy trying to drum up interest in his organization, Dallasslams, which can be found on the Web at He's looking for help raising about $50,000 in seed money in hopes of attracting the 2004 National Poetry Slam to Dallas, which Buzz thinks would be just grand. In fact, we have a tip about how he can go about finding the bread: First, go before the City Council and ask for their moral support, but tell them that you will never, ever ask for tax money. Then ask for the money. That one gets them every time.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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