Tag Archives: Writer’s Block

End of Another Slam Season and an Art Project


Last week marked the end of the Individual World Poetry Slam season for Writers’ Block. I and four other wonderful poets competed in the Grand Slam to determine who would represent WB in Fayetteville later this year. I went into this pretty certain I was not going to win this season (No, this is not the way you should go in… but I’ve become something of a realist… a realist who still loves poetry, but still a realist.)

Anyhoo, I had a different goal for this slam: I was going to perform all three of my pieces from memory. Three minutes, two minutes, and one minute. I rehearsed for the better part of a month, and wanted to say I had performed to the very best of my ability.  And, in the end, I did.

I won’t go over every single detail from the three performances… except to say, they felt good. I felt strong on stage, and thought my work could stand up with everyone else’s that night. Well, according to the scores  (which is not the point of poetry, and so on and so forth), my pieces did NOT. I ended up fourth out of five. But, damnit, I still achieved my goal. I performed. I presented my work how I wanted to present it…. that part no one can take away from me. No one ever will.

I just still want to know what the people want to hear. I write what moves me, and I write it as eloquently as I can. And I did have some of my friends and fellow poets say that my work was some of the best I had ever written/performed. That was a solace. That means I have been learning and applying what I have learned in a way that can be noticed. So, I don’t leave this season without anything. I leave a little more experienced and a little stronger on the stage. I know that *someday*my chance will come. I just have to keep on keeping on.

In case you were wondering, a wonderful poet named Ed Plunkett will be representing Writers’ Block at IWPS. He’s a great friend, and wonderful poet, and he will represent us well. We wish him the best of luck.

In other artistic news,  the Midnight Shift is performing “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” this month. I’m Jessica… and directing. It keeps a girl on her toes. Even my Mister is going to be in this… as Lena Hyena. Yeah, baby.  No way better to break them in than in DRAG.

I’ve also been painting. Yes, an actual painting. On canvas even.

I call it “Cat at the well.” It’s acrylic on an 11×14 canvas. I’m really happy with how this piece turned out. It was quite enjoyable trying to figure out sunset and how to paint the well. Believe it or not, the cat was pretty simple to paint. Can’t beat simple, sometimes.  Anyway, I want to hang it somewhere, just have to figure out where.  It’ll come.

So, that’s me. I work, I write, I shadowcast, and now I paint. Why not?

So I haven’t been around for awhile…


I know… about two weeks without a post. Shame on me. It’s been a trying couple of weeks or so. Let’s start with the fact that my hours were cut in half at work. Yeah, I was poor before… I’m po, now. So it’s been a lot of resume submissions, and interviews. I’m looking at getting back into working with the developmentally disabled. It’s a field I enjoyed working in, and I was pretty good at what I did. We’ll see what happens. 

Add to this the fact that my father had a quadruple bypass last week. Waiting to see if your father makes it out of surgery is an experience I would not wish on anyone. Sitting in a waiting room pretending our lives are normal while a family member is having veins and arteries re-arranged in their body is a soul chilling experience. I’ve been trying to write about it… and it’s coming. At its own pace, it’s coming. 

And, yes… I always have my hand in something poetry related. Working on a few new pieces, and I’m trying to memorize three pieces for the upcoming Grand Slam to send one person from Writers’ Block to the Individual World Poetry Slam. Yes… I’m still trying. Yes, I’m probably still going to end up dead last… but what the hell. I’m a poetic masochist. But, damn it… I’m going to perform off the paper. I’m going to give these pieces every bit of performance they deserve. And I’m leaving there that night with my head held high, come hell, high water or low slam scores. 

I’m still trying to remind myself that I have something to say… that I have a talent as a poet. It’s tough, especially when I hear all of the talented people in Columbus. It is doubly true when I hear from features such as Theresa Davis or Rachel McKibbens. I just saw Rachel perform tonight. She brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion during her feature. She’s so powerful… so eloquent and honest and heartbreaking. So… everything that I am not. Makes me wonder what I have in me, sometimes. What makes me unique… what makes me worth listening to. What my “So what” factor is.

I’m still looking. Maybe someday, I will find it. 

First iWPS slam of the season, crocheting and back to shadowcast love…


Well, the first slam of iWPS season was put in the books last week. There were seven of us performing. I drew fourth slot, which I was fine with. My three minute piece was called “Where I Come From,” talking about my moves when I was little. A good piece… one I had been wanting to write for quite a few years. It ended up with a 28.3. Scored me for fourth for the round. My friend, Ed, gave a rousing poem about the insane sex scene from the worst poet movie ever, “Street Poet,” He ended up in the lead after round one.

The second, two minute round, had me changing my pieces around. I opted for one of my more popular pieces, “The Mammary Way.” (yes… it’s about THOSE)  Ended up with a 28.7 for that one. I was quite satisfied with two 28+ scores. There were a lot of 29s given to the other poets, and Ed ended up winning the night (his first win since ’09) and Rose came in second (that woman can spin straw into gold). I ended up third. We all received points toward the Grand Slam to see who is representing Writer’s Block at iWPS.

I was surprised with the result. I’ve never scored points so early in a season. Rose said she’s seeing more confidence in me. To be honest, I feel more confident. I trust my stories and  performances more. Feels pretty good.

After that, though, I took a break. Wrote one poem about my name and worked on my crochet. I’m creating a new doily for my side table. I want to eventually make a runner for the coffee table, but I’ll be happy with the smaller doily, right now. It’s been fun getting back into the swing of crochet. It’s good to have a couple of different creative outlets– keeps the mind sharp.

Here’s a picture of the piece in progress…


I still have a border to figure out, but I think I know where I want to go with this. And, no, I don’t use a pattern. I rarely use patterns for doilies, anymore. I enjoy the problem solving aspects of creating a new pattern.

And, as if my life isn’t crazy enough, I’m back to shadowcasting, now. Sunday is the first rehearsal for The Midnight Shift’s performance of “Army of Darkness.” I’ll be playing Evil Sheila. I even convinced the mister to play a deadite. Fun times.

So, yeah… that’s me this past week. Going to see Jon Sands perform at WB tomorrow… and hopefully get inspired for some new pieces for next week’s slam. We’ll see what happens.

New Slam Season… and the travesty that is “Street Poet”


New slam season starts tonight at Writer’s Block. Individual World Poetry Slam prelims. This was the season I started out with last year… the one year anniversary of my slam adventure.

I admit, it’s had its ups and downs. I love performing. I love putting myself out there for people. I love hearing the different stories everyone brings to the table. I love the “So what!” scream and the “Fuck the time!”

I hated not placing well, though. I hate that it feels like I started this adventure so late.. though, really, not late at all. I hated not being able to go to the national events and be a part of the performances… and I hated that I felt that way.

But this year. This season… I’m turning over a new leaf. Performing what I want to perform– not what I THINK people want me to perform, and pretty much not giving a damn about the scores. I figure, I’ll either win to get in… or I’ll storm an event. Other people do it. Why can’t I. I just need to use these events to make myself a better performer, a better poet… and to have fun, dammit! Poetry is supposed to bring me joy. Creating is supposed to bring me joy. Letting myself get stressed out about the slams takes away that joy. I will not let that happen, anymore.

Speaking of slams…

I, and around 10 fellow poets from Writer’s Block all met at the library Saturday for a showing of the 2010 *ahem* movie “Street Poet.” SP is the SECOND title for this movie– the first being “Fighting Words”… from 2007. Yes, this movie was so bad that they had to re-issue it three years later with a different title. We sat and had pizza and snacks and watched this travesty and gave it our best Riff Trax treatment whilst also playing Slam Bingo. Every cliche we could think of we put on our bingo sheets and marked them off as we saw them. I won. Damn straight!

As to the movie. Wow. It was bad. It had C. Thomas Howell as a hipster sell-out poet with the world’s worst soul patch. It had a bunch of no-name actors portraying poets and publicists… and it had Fred Willard as a Marc Smith-lite version of a Slam Host… the slam being the “Poetron Slam.” No, there were no neon lit spandex suits worn during the making of this movie. If so, the movie might have been better. Maybe.

There was just about every conceivable stereotype concerning poets in this movie; everything from the drunk poet using his poetry to try to pay the rent to “I just want people to hear my words.” Ugh. There was (get this) a poet with a shoe endorsement deal (C. Thomas Howell’s character… that shit was funny). That literally had jaws dropping in the room.

Oh, yeah… we in the room believed that this movie took place in the 2000’s, but you didn’t find one poet using a computer, and there was mention of “floppy disks” in one of the poems. That one left us scratching our heads.

And if the general poetry cliches and inaccuracies weren’t bad enough, there were the world’s most awkward sex scenes in this movie (the most up-front way anyone in cinema has told another person that they were HIV positive AND later the most dramatic unsheathing of a condom ever. EVER.), and the oddest poetry slam ever created. And not one damn snap! Not one! AND they used props during the slam. The hell!

I could literally go on and on about this movie… but I will spare you. Needless to say, this movie should be buried in a pit. A pit of poetic despair, never to be seen from again, along with C. Thomas Howell’s soul patch.

It was such a bad movie, one of the poets in attendance said “If this is how people see us, I’m out.” We all kinda felt that way. About halfway through the movie, he left. Couldn’t handle it. We don’t blame him.

So, if you’re at a Redbox or on Netflix and you see “Street Poet,” do yourself a favor… search for “Slam Nation,” instead.

Columbus Arts Fest and the after effects (pt. 2)


Okay, I promised a part two to this… so here I am.

Not only was this past weekend the Columbus Arts Festival, it was also the Rustbelt Poetry Slam. Teams from all over the midwest came to Columbus to compete for a team and individual title. I didn’t get to go, as I was preparing for Arts Fest– and, let’s be honest– trying to balance my life in the process.

From what I have read on Facebook and seen on YouTube, there were some fire hot performances. To cap it off, the Writer’s Block team won the team competition.  That was amazing to hear and I was quite proud of them. And, a little envious.

Oh, envy…. green-eyed beast. Sitting over my shoulder, watching the performances on YouTube, reading post after post celebrating each others’ work, that beast almost took the wind out of my sails for the weekend. Almost made me feel that Arts Fest was second class or something. Made me feel like there was a part of me that STILL doesn’t belong in the poetry community. Made me wonder what is still wrong with my poetry that it doesn’t belong in this upper echelon of regional and national performance. Kept whispering in my ear, “why aren’t you like them?”

I really hate that part of myself.

I listen to performances, read the responses about it giving people chills, being genius, having “arrived” and I wonder if I will ever have that skill. Be able to move people that much. And those were the questions that lingered for a couple of days after the Festival.

Until today.

I remembered going to see a friend perform last Friday night. He didn’t see me in the audience until a little over half-way through his show. He finally saw me and said hi. He then asked me if I still perform “Pockets”– a poem I wrote two summers ago. He said he “hearted the Pockets poem a lot.”

And then at Arts Fest, a woman telling her friend that I was the one who “wrote a poem about doing it in the garage.”  She was a fan of that one.

And, of course, remembering that I worked DAMN HARD to make it to Arts Fest! They don’t take everyone, and it’s an absolute HONOR to be there and be a top three finisher, to boot! Just making it to Arts Fest was one of my goals when I first moved to Columbus a year ago. To make it AND place in the top 3… it leaves me jubilant and humble.

What did I learn from these memories?  My poems DO live. They take on little lives of their own and make their little mark on that woven tapestry of memory. And that’s pretty cool.  And I’ll take it, and keep on writing and performing. Hopefully, I can keep writing and performing pieces that will entertain people, periodically.

So now, dear readers,  I deal with burn out. I’m tired, peeps! Work and poetry and still getting settled in with the mister. I took a couple of months off f from shadowcasting, but I think I am going to have to cut down even more. I love shadowcasting, but I can’t do two casts… that’s two shows a month plus rehearsals. I can’t do that if I want my primary focus to be on improving my poetry.  This means that there are some hard choices coming; but it’s best to cut back than burn out on everything.  Damn responsibility.

I am taking a couple days off from writing. Might crochet this week. Might just read. Might just sleep. But next week,oh, I’ll be getting back into the swing of things, and the world better watch out. I still have stuff to say! My story isn’t over, yet.


Recap of Writer’s Block All-Nighter and Other Goings on


I know, I haven’t been on for a little while. Life gets busy, ya know? But I’m here, now, so let’s chat.

Friday night was my 15 minute feature at the Writer’s Block All Nighter at Kafe Kerouac. I went on after my friend, poet Ed Plunkett. He always brings amazing work to the table. So funny. I wish I could write more funny. When the mood hits, maybe…

My feature, it went well. I performed a few of my 30/30 pieces from this past National Poetry Month. I performed a couple of pieces I had just written within the past three days before. And a couple older pieces, including my title piece from my first chapbook (to be published in early 2013… don’t worry, I’ll keep reminding you.) It felt, good, but I do need to start rehearsing some out loud readings again. I don’t want a shaky voice. Time to get in front of the mirror!

I finally got to meet a facebook friend at the All-Nighter. A wonderful young poet named Ben Ditmars. He read from his book, “Night Poems,” and did a very nice job.

I wish I could have stayed longer, but between last year (when I DID stay all night) and this year, I moved in with my life-parrtner (the Mister, we will call him). The Mister does NOT stay up late often. And, on top of that, I ended up with a migraine. Fail. Had to go back home.

Saturday, I did make a return for a Haiku death match. We had 6 poets and two rounds before they started eliminating people. Yeah, it didn’t go so well Saturday. I just wasn’t in my haiku groove. But it was fun… and FUNNY. Two out of three judges had been there overnight, and they were slap-happy. This was a good learning experience, though… haiku about masturbation go a looooong way in a death match. 😉

It was a really good show, Vernell Bristow was an outstanding host and is making a wonderful coach/member of this year’s team. They ended up making 600.00 toward their funding to Charlotte.

If you wish to donate to help these remarkable poets (Vernell, Hanif Abdurraqib, Rose Smith and Gina Blaurock) get to Charlotte, please feel free to donate here: http://writersblockpoetry.rewritingovid.net/DonateToThe2012NPSTeam.php


On other topics, time to really hunker down and get Arts Fest preparations underway. I really want some new poems for Arts Fest. I have starts, just have to get in there and work them around. I really want to start up my crocheting again, too, though. Been itching to make some runners, etc. for my living room set. I’ll fit in. Somehow. I do know that I have to cut back on some things. I have been too tired, lately. I don’t want to burn out on life. Need to prioritize my need to do’s and want to do’s. I love to stay busy, but I have to have that calm time, too. Just every now and again.

Performance updates for the rest of May and early June… and an apology.


Hot diggity, ladies and gents.  Had the BIGGEST surprise this week.  They finally posted the Columbus Arts Fest schedule and I found out that I placed SECOND in the overall competition. That means a 40 minute set on June 2nd at the Word is Art Stage. I go on right after one of my poetry idols, the great Rose Smith, who placed third and gets a 35 minute feature; and right before the winner of the Arts Fest competition, Joanna Schroeder, who will have a 50 minute feature.

Before that, though, I still have my 15 minute feature on Friday the 18th, for the Writer’s Block all -nighter; and it looks like I will be part of a haiku deathmatch on Saturday, the 19th. Gotta school me some folks. 😉

It’s amazing, this past year in Columbus. I remember talking to a friend (friend, teacher, slammaster, poet extraordinaire), and telling him that I had three main goals for my first couple years or so in Columbus: 1. Continue to get published. 2. Make Arts Fest. 3. Make a National Slam Event within two years.

What can I say? Two out of three in the first year isn’t too shabby. I still have work to do Slam-wise.

As to Slamming…

I pretty much had a mini-breakdown after the Grand Slam for the National Team in mid-April.  I came in last. Some outstanding poets (Vernell Bristow, Hanif Abdurraqib, Gina Blaurock and Rose Smith) made the team and will represent Writer’s Block very well in Charlotte this year.  But I admit, fully, that I did not handle coming in last well.

I was tired. I was grumpy. I was fed up with coming in last or near last A LOT.  And so I grumbled. I doubted myself. I wondered if poetry was my thing after all. I alienated people. I ended up weepy and whiny.

And I’m sorry for it.

I try to be the “noble” poet, doing it for the art, etc. You know, that old chestnut. But I admit, I’m human… and sometimes my humanity overwhelms my nobility.  I really wanted to make that team. I wanted to make top 4, EARN my way to the team– NOT beat other people… I don’t think of it that way. I love these people too much to think that way.  I just wanted to be a part of something big and remarkable. And it really stung to know I have to wait another year to try again.  I have spent a lot of time waiting in my life… especially during my marriage.  It just really sucked the life out of me for about a week after the slam, and I wasn’t a good human being. And I really didn’t love poetry for awhile.  I tell you,  I wish I could take it back.

But, I learned that I have to get better. I learned that Imma gonna have to work HARD–especially going up against these poets here in Columbus. I have to make my language rock hard and razor sharp. And I have to learn to enjoy it again. I have to write for me again.  And I have to please myself with my words first and foremost. I won’t please anyone else if I don’t do that.

So, I am set to write this weekend. Formed poetry, free verse, it doesn’t matter. I just want to write.  Create something new and (hopefully) eloquent. And I want to have fun. And I will.

Poetic plans for the Month of May


After the bat-crap craziness that was 30 poems in 30 days in April (which I completed for the first time this year– yay me!), it is time to focus on May.

I do have a mini-feature coming up at Writer’s Block poetry (2250 N. High St. in Columbus). It’s part of an all night event set to raise fund for the WB National Poetry Slam team. I donated for a 15 minute slot from 10:45-11:00 Pm Friday, May 18th.

It’s for a good cause and it’s a great warm up for the feature at this year’s Columbus Arts Fest in early June. I’ll be posting more details on that as I get them.

On the writing front, working on a poetic invite for a client (remind me to tell you about my side gigs, sometime.), and I have a couple of ideas in gestation. Just notes and numbers, but I think they can turn into really good pieces.