The Wrap Up
Semis and Finals are over and it’s a good time to look back over my performance this past season. “Mercy on the Battlefield” came into its own this year and I was able to ride its success into almost automatic entry into 13’s second round of Slam. Oddly, “MotB” never had great success at the Nuyorican and I can’t explain why. My second rounds at 13 saw me bounce back and forth between a pseudo-political/rant to a new poem to a bilingual love call and all had almost no success. “Ceviche” turned out to be the magic bullet and a non-sappy love poem was a welcome change from some of the angst on the Slam stage. Switching up the order proved to be the winning formula and my ticket to Semis. Reaching the third round only once leaves me with little to reflect on.
Semis saw me try to recapture the magic and use “Mercy…” to ry to find favor in the judges eyes and ride the wave into Finals. A shallow battle plan that ultimately revealed my lack of work and left me on the black&blue side of a poetic beatdown.
Final analysis: I wasn’t ready to Slam this year. Three poems does not a Slam champ make as I had deluded myself into thinking. I needed to work harder at writing and then performing. Will I Slam next year? If I can get more poems under my belt. Yeah. If I spend all this time in the administrative side of poetry and don’t give myself time to write, rehearse, perform, edit, rinse, lather, repeat then I can forget it. Next year someone else who has that time will come along and kick ass. I would love to be that person but what good will it do for me to keep using “MotB” all the time. It’s a great poem and I have a blast performing it but I don’t ever want to get sick of doing it and besides, poetry is all about love and falling in love with one poem limits your ability to fall in love with other poems. “Ultimo Canto” came at me like gangbusters and while I wish it had that feel good taste of “MotB” it is still a good poem and one of the most honest things I have ever written.
The biggest thing I have walked away with from Semis is the fact that Slam is not for everyone and that you need a great thick skin to compete. I have it but not everyone does. Those who don’t could find themselves frozen out of the Slam and that would be a shame. I will be much more careful about recommending Slam to people and make sure they have the thick skin and good poems necessary to do well in Slam. I don’t want to be the one responsible for a potentially fine writer finding themselves stuck in self-doubt because of my advice.