This is the first national I have ever been to in which I was not actually at any events other than my bouts. To be honest, it is quite a different experience. I don’t think I got to have as much fun or feel as a part of the community as I would have liked to. There is a part of me that “mourns” a little about that, but my reasons for this is because (duh) I have a baby and he is my #1 priority. That aside, I still had a great time at the event and at our bouts.
Our first bout featured teams from Providence, Ft. Worth, and Jersey City and highlights of poems I enjoyed included a poem about Robots, and a poem about sexual harassment. Both were extremely powerful pieces of work. It was a seriously close bout, but we managed to pull 1st place and got the high team poems scores of the night.
Our next bout was the following night and featured teams from Hawaii, St. Paul, and Online team (team fuck yeah poetry slam). Hawaii drew the 1 and came swinging. No one was catching them and the rest of the teams battled out in a close race for second place. Once again, it was close, but our team managed to pull that second place slot and once again got the high scores for team pieces in the bout leaving us with the option of going to Semi Finals or Group Piece Finals. We opted for the later. I didn’t know this at the time but we were the second team ever in Nationals history to drop out of Semis for Group Piece Finals. Since it was our Team goal all along to make it to Group Piece Finals, we did so without a second thought, yet some people were shocked by this. We as a team were incredibly proud of our team poems and wanted to showcase them on a finals stage if we could, which is why we made the decision we did. I think some folks view GPF as a “consolation prize” if a team didn’t make it semis, but we didn’t feel this way.
Group Piece Finals night was a blast! We didn’t know at the time but each round was clean slate. Our strategy was based on a cumulative score, and I think that effected which poems we chose to do at the bout. While our first poem scored the highest of the first round we put up a poem in the second round that didn’t get us to the 3rd and final round (damn clean slate!) and since 2 teams tied in the first round they added them to the second round instead of cutting them(as they were supposed to) so the second round was a bit crowded. We were most disappointed to miss out on the 3rd round because we still had a super strong piece we wanted to perform, but that’s the nature of slam I guess. All the elements have to be “right”. While I liked the majority of the poems I saw on the stage, the final round was the most lack luster and we as a team felt like if we had only made it to the 3rd round that we would have taken first place…..but I suppose we’ll never know….
Team piece finals was the following night and what a great show it was! I loved all but 2 poems I saw that night, and feel like every team gave their all! Congrats to Beltway for taking 1st Place in the entire competition!
In a nutshell, I’ve been thinking about “retiring” from slam and the slam community. This is as far and as successful as I have come in my 12 years of slam and I’d like to go out “on top”. Also, there are so many things I don’t like about the community as a whole that have turned me off to wanting to be a part of it. (My experience with being heavily criticized for talking about my rape in a poem being one of them. ) I feel like I also have a knowledge of my own co-dependency within the community, and how being a part of the community brings out sides of my personality that are not as loving, supportive, and mentally safe as I would like myself to be, and the fact is that right now in my life I need to focus on my family and less on my art. That’s not to say I won’t ever do poetry or come to a slam or even be on a team again, but for now, a little disconnect feels like the healthiest thing I can do for myself.
Also, I have to give a shout out to my team. My loving, supportive family who worked so hard to get us where we needed to go. I have been on many great teams with incredibly talented people, but this team was such a blessing to be a part of and as hardworking and dedicated as they come. I will miss them all so much as we struggle to get back to our “normal” lives with the holes that I can work again with them in the future.
Phew! It’s been a long summer, and there is so much left to do. I’ve submitted my manuscript to a few publishers in the last couple months so with any luck, perhaps I can attain my next goal of being published!