Oh, I wish… after last night’s slam, I was ready to set it ablaze and chuck it in the pond out back of our house. Finished dead last (again). Finished behind a guy with a six point time penalty, if that gives you any idea of how badly I sucked the life out of the room.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t have my heart into it. I haven’t felt like performing for awhile, now, and I slammed BECAUSE I didn’t feel like it. That seems to be the time when you need to get up and face the apathy the most. Didn’t work., though; and– might as well be honest– the poetry sucked. It was “So what” poetry. I didn’t think it was… I hoped that it wasn’t, but it was.
And that is where I am having problems.
In slams, it is rare that I connect with an audience. I’m a short, chubby, Southern woman who hates following trends (remind me to tell you about my intense hatred of “The Hunger Games”). It’s tough to create work to which people relate. I see other poets get up there and have people eating out of their hands, and I could weep. I can rarely bring the humor and the utter pathos that seem to grab the audience and keep them enthralled. I’m trying, though. Reading, watching YouTube performances, going to see poets as much as I can. But what moves me is not the same as others, and I don’t know how to make it beautiful for them.
That’s not to say I haven’t, though. There are a very special few pieces that I have written that connected. I have to try to remember how I did that.
I’m not going to quit, though. I’ll keep turning out crap; and maybe, just maybe, there will be a few diamonds come from them… or at least some semi-precious stones worth of poetry.
I’m really not a slam performer either, though I really enjoy listening to a good slam (see some recent posts on my blog). But maybe you just are reading to the wrong audiences? Not all poets do that style. It has its place, which in my mind has mostly to do with getting good verse out to a new generation, and breathing some life back into an art we in academia almost killed with our own snobbery. We don’t like to admit such snobbery, but it’s there. I applaud you for doing slams. It’s been a long time since I’ve done one, but it’s not my normal method. 🙂 Congrats on your recent publication, by the way!
I have had some good scores where I slam. Each season I have slammed (this is my fourth season), I have ended up in the Grand Slam. I go up against some of the best poets in Columbus, though… and they kick my tail feathers.
What I have been told is that when I do my worst is when they can’t hear the “me” in the poem. That is especially true when I try for persona or try for a broader ranging poem. One of those lovely idealistic pieces. That is something I am trying to work on through more reading, watching other poets, and writing.
Do you have video of any of your performances? I’d be interested to hear your work as well as read it.
It’s been years since I’ve performed an actual Slam, and those were tame, central Pennsylvania style slams in Williamsport. 🙂 I tend to read more low key. A post about two posts back shows me at a local reading, but the audio isn’t that great. If you click back to April you can see a bunch of the videos I did for National Poetry month, but only one of those was my own writing.