There were some good points. Denizen Kane’s chant for unknown soldiers was evocative, and Sekou Sundiata’s thoughtful piece on modern life was moving and well-performed.
There were some dull points, like Kristiana Colon’s overpitched school essay about hating and forgiving her namesake Christopher Columbus (bygones …) and Rock Baby’s predictable piece about full-figured women (Sir Mix-A-Lot said it much better).
Vietnamese performer Jimmy Tran is funny, but the only thing this standup comic has in common with poets is that he obviously hangs out with them. Get this guy a TV show — he really is that funny. But it ain’t poetry.
In the end, the best performer was a transplant from theatre, Eve Ensler of Vagina Monologues fame. Well, she’s apparently a poet too, because she read with strength and from the heart. There are a lot of seasoned spoken word poets on each episode of Def Poetry, but veteran monologuist Eve Ensler probably showed them all a few tricks. It was the most effective moment of the show, and made the otherwise disappointing episode worth watching.