Matt Mahady was writing poetry before there was a poetry scene in Florida. He helped one coalesce and grow. He was on the first Florida poetry slam team that went to the National Poetry Slam. He competed in Providence, Seattle, and Minneapolis in the early 2000s. His poems made book/CD compilations, and he self-published a chapbook, Midnight in Bushville.
One poem from that, "Bukowski Never Would Have Slammed," is a modern nod toward the romanticized poet, a tribute that is simple, evocative, deferent, and fun to read:
Maybe he'd be out at the dog track on West Belvedere
Or the open air cantina across from the Lantana post office
Maybe he'd be at Sneakers Lounge
Booze oozing from his pores
Or locked down tight in the county stockade
For soliciting sexual favors
From Dixie Highway whores
I don't know
I do know
Mahady moved to the Czech Republic in 2009, following a friend and seeking a fresh life abroad after his teenaged son died by suicide. His friend and fellow poet Marya Summers
Summers says that throughout the early 2000s, "Performing every week together at the poetry slam definitely bonded us." People were so passionate then, she says, that "frequently a flare of temper showed when our ideologies clashed, but there was always a lot of love there."
Mahady died of a heart attack in the Czech Republic on January 3. On Thursday, at Dada Restaurant — where there is still a monthly slam that takes teams to nationals — poets and musicians will gather to celebrate Mahady's life.
"He'd shoot me a text or word of encouragement about how he appreciated me keeping art alive in Delray," says Terese "Chunky" Hill, who hosts the monthly slam on the first Tuesday of the month. "It was the little stuff like that that made me push harder."
For his memorial, Mahady's friends are flying in from around the country and have dug up his old works. One even retyped his chapbook, says Summers, who will be coming in from Los Angeles. At the event, slam poets will perform his poetry in the first round and then one of their own in the second. There will also be a short musical tribute between rounds.
"Bukowski Never Would Have Slammed": The Matt Mahady Memorial Slam
9:30 p.m. Thursday, February 11, at Dada, 52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-330-3232.