Thursday, October 26

Poetry slam tonight

I'm competing in a poetry slam tonight. I'm not sure what other people think when they hear the words poetry slam. Especially the word poetry. There's this whole societal undercurrent of "I don't understand poetry." "Poetry just isn't for me." "I don't know much about poetry."

Personally, I don't get it. What is there to know? Are there people out there who say this about music? Well, yes in respect to genres, I know. "Bluegrass just ain't my thing." "I like just about all music except country." I can't remember the last time I heard someone say that, but I'd like to respond with, "Everything except country. What about modern Chinese. How about Dadawa? I think she's got a really good sound.

But I digress. Poetry slam tonight. For me, the slam is really about winning. I mean, self-expression - what's that? You express yourself walking down the street. You express yourself picking out your clothes in the morning. But how many forums do we have to actually compete and win? I like to support creative people in other venues - open mike nights and that sort of thing.

Thus how do I win? How do I put myself in the best position to win? There are basically three steps in the process. The first step is to create good raw material. To be uncensored in the writing of the poem. To subjugate as much as possible any sense of shame. I don't know if that sounds easy, but it isn't. (I also try to create new poems for each slam because it adds to the excitement for me.)

The second step is to edit and practice, edit and practice. It would be nice, I know to memorize more poems, but I've only got so many hours in the day. And I've got a day job.

Lastly, I try to get mentally focused. That's the stage I'll be in today. I often say to friends at the slam, Hit me. Hit me. It might be easier if it were football. They sometimes seem a little shocked. But physical contact does help.

I believe in the power of conflict. Oh wait, this isn't my This I Believe essay.

My favorite poems are those that tell a story. This can lead to my favorite question: "Did that really happen?" Similar to "Is that really true?"

Oh, another note about the judging. Five judges are randomly selected from the audience. I was watching the DVD Slamnation yesterday and a poet said he considered that a representative democracy. I don't always care what the judges say. I mean, I want to win and perform at my best. But I can't get into someone else's head.

For me, sometimes the best poems come from playing with wounds, picking at scabs. That's especially the case when I find yourself remembering things I'd rather forget. One of the poems I'm planning on doing tonight falls into that category. Sometimes I think it would be better if I didn't remember things like that. Does writing about it make it better? Maybe a little bit. But we're not supposed to pick at scabs, are we?


Blogger R2K said...

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October 26, 2006 8:19 AM  

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