Guess what? I made the 2011 Halifax Slam Team! For those who don’t know, a slam team is a team of poets who perform their work in competition in front of an audience and judges. The type of poetry performed at slams is mostly spoken word, though some people perform more formal poetry. The difference is that spoken word is meant to be performed. The effect is in the content of the poem and also how it sounds to the listener. It contains the similar imagery, rhyme and other techniques as formal poetry but uses more wordplay and rhythm, generally. It is also often political but doesn’t have to be. Formal or written poetry carries a lot of weight in its written form. When shared aloud, these poems are read, rather than performed. While the structure and content of each line is intentional, spoken word often uses free verse instead of having a set stanza length, meter and rhyme scheme all the way through the poem.
Still with me?
I anticipate challenge. The teams that I saw last year were good, really good. But so are we. And challenge is always a good thing because it makes you rise above your current level. Who doesn’t want to get to the other side of a challenge and actually be able to see growth in themselves? Me, I want to be confident when I step onto that stage and proud of myself when I get off. I won’t front and say that I don’t want a high score, but if I know I’ve done well, at least I won’t have myself to blame for a low score. You don’t want to leave any holes to look back at and say, ‘well I could have done this better, I could have practiced more, I could have worked on memorization instead of wasting time watching tv’ or something. If the judge gives me a low score, let it be because he just didn’t like the poem, not because of anything I could have done.
I anticipate discomfort. I’m the only black girl on the team and appear to be the only Christian as well. Need I say more on that? I don’t even feel the pressure of being the only black person compared to being Christian. It seems that at every poetry show I go to, there’s at least one poet who has to talk about Jesus-and how much they’re sick of hearing about Him or religious people and how intolerant they are. It’s ironic really, how it supposed to be an open and accepting environment and whatnot. Oh well, who said I was supposed to be comfortable all the time anyway as a Christian? Certainly not Jesus.
I anticipate fun. Slams are always full of energy and laughter. There are always a few people with the gift of cracking people up with their poems. Old and new friends meet and a persona can get high off the inspiration and creativity in the air.
So, I’m off to work. Brush up some old pieces and write new ones. Memorize all. The national competition is in October. Last year, while in Ghana, I set a goal to make the slam team this year. Check! I’m so excited.
To God be the glory.