Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Poetry Champions

I am proud to introduce to you, the poetry champions of 2013!!!! I can't even begin to describe how much I love this community. They have so much love for each other and so much acceptance. I think there's a lot we can learn from them.

This last weekend, they had their third annual poetry championship at the University's poetry center downtown. The excitement and anticipation in the air was palpable. If I thought about it too much, my stomach twisted up in knots. If I didn't think about it... it was no use. They told us at the workshop the night previous that we should take some time to ourselves before it started to be still and "center" ourselves. This idea really appealed to me. But again, useless. Poets intermingled, surrounded by white noise, as more people arrived. There would be no quiet time for me.

16 poets.
2 rounds.
Only 8 advanced.

I tried not to think about the competition part of it too much. Logan had said the night before, "Based on the math, your odds of advancing are pretty low [the numbers were slightly different, then with a projected 20 poets arriving and only 5 advancing.]. This first poem is your moment to shine. Make the most of every second. Don't rush it. Take a deep breath. Let your pauses hang. Be deliberate. And at the end, soak it all in." I think that was the best advice he could've given me. Just stop and preserve the moment. It only lasts for three minutes.

The poets were on fire! The poetry was fierce! And two of the judges shocked the entire audience (all hundred people, including the mayor, several board members, and many teachers) with some harsh scores--perhaps even the lowest TYPS has ever seen. Poets exchanged wide-eyed glances as low 7's, high 6's, and a 5 and a 4 were thrown out. Frustrating though it was, it threw an element of unpredictability into the game that made things interesting. It was a complete toss-up who would advance. No one knew.

When my time came, third to last in the first round, I strode up to the mic. I had battled all the self-doubt throughout the competition. Now, I wasn't concerned about advancing. I didn't care if I got a low score. I was just there to perform and have my Moment and I was gonna milk it for all it was worth.

I swear, I spit fire on that mic. It was the most flawless performance of Moss I have ever done. Completely from memory. All the poets were getting into it. Snaps abounded. The swell of pride when I perform really well is difficult to describe. I scored in the mid-range: a few 7's, an 8, and two 9's. I couldn't have asked for better.

It wasn't enough to advance, but I felt so assured in my performance, I didn't even care. A bunch of my poet friends told me, "Well done." and "Your poetry has matured a lot from when you first started."

During the break, my friend introduced me to her uncle who told me, "Your poem really spoke to me and I was wondering if you could email me a copy of it." He told me about his story and how he was in the midst of a divorce. My heart went out to him and the pain he was going through. I was so honored that my poem and my personal struggles could reach out and touch another person and inspire hope. It was beautiful.

The poets definitely brought it in Round 2 and I am so proud of every one of them. I don't remember who the top 5 were because they downplayed the actual place-winners. "The point is not the points, the point is the poetry." It didn't matter who got first, second, third etc. In the end, every single poet who competed, who got up there and spoke their heart, gave voice to their thoughts--each and every one of us was a champion.

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