This year's St. Paul national poetry-slam team took 13th in the country, improving its previous year's finish by two spots and cementing the Twin Cities' place in the national scene. The best thing about that team? Poet Kyle Myhre, known onstage as El Guante. An activist and rapper as well as an accomplished spoken-word artist, El Guante uses the slick hubris of hip hop to turn heads. But once he has the audience's attention, he breaks and bends that attitude into lyrical knots, to illustrate forgotten characters like schoolchildren and janitors with astonishing tenderness. Many slam virgins hold a stereotype of slam poetry as angry hollering or overprivileged angst; no local poet can more quickly dispel those prejudices. Whether writing of lost causes or zombie apocalypses, El Guante demonstrates impeccable artistic control; in performance, he has the audience's undivided attention.