Monday, April 27, 2009

I Will Never Be A Slam Poet

I will never be a slam poet.

This baffles me. When people read my writing, they tell me about the strength of my voice and the way the words "hit" them. But when I try to write poems for the stage, they always come out sounding too soft or lacking depth.

I thought the problem was in my performance, my delivery. So for an experiment I read a poem by Lauren Zuniga, a friend who is good at slam. I did well. If the poem had been memorized, it probably could've gotten me an 8. So it's not in the delivery.

I noticed last Wednesday at the slam finals for Oklahoma City's nationals team, that everyone who scored well (and even many who didn't) used their poem to tell a story or to call people to action. I realized that the poems I write do neither. I write prayers, introspections, ideas, questions. Sometimes I tell stories, but they are usually love stories or something else equally as boring. I "bleed" too much, feel too much, think too much.

I did an exposé on slam poetry for my nonfiction class at school and in the revision stage, I realized something else. My view of slam has changed over the last month. It used to be something I idealized, even idolized, something glitzy and glamorous and poignant that I wanted to grow into. I thought of slam poetry the same way I think of the competitors on America's Next Top Model, the same way I think of young, famous musicians, the same way I think of the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. Something beautiful, hard-to-reach, unnecessarily demanding, and ultimately not ME.

I put beauty and fame on a pedestal, but I was created for hard work. I put vapidity and cut-throat behavior on the list of things to be excused, but I was molded for love and nurture. I admire glitz and glamour, but I was made for wiping snotty noses and picking hearts up off the floor.

I'm coming to grips with this. I used to want to be a slam poet more than anything in the world, but I can't. I was meant to be different. Meant to write, not to perform. Meant to speak, not to recite. Meant to teach, not to compete.

It's a hard pill to swallow, but it never does any good to resist what the Universe has planned for you...unless you're willing to come away from it with a limp (cf. Jacob wrestling the angel and having his leg messed up in the book of Genesis).

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