What’s the most responsible thing to do after competing in a week-long poetry competition out of province, contracting a serious cold, and engaging in three full days of workshop-teaching? Why, go to Toronto and compete in another poetry slam, of course!
Poster and artwork by Komi Olaf. © 2015
Back in March, I won a poetry slam that gave me the opportunity to compete against poets from four other cities at the Buddies In Bad Times Theatre in Toronto. As someone who had a love affair with Sky Gilbert’s Confessions of a Naked Party Girl during her undergrad, I considered it mandatory to take the opportunity to perform on the stage that he co-founded and artistically directs (could I have possibly phrased this more awkwardly? Shit. Good thing I don’t try to make a living as a writer or anything).
The evening’s feature performer was D’bi.Young Anitafrika. There quite simply are not enough adjectives in the Universe to describe the fierce awesomeness and raw talent of this artist. I cried my way through her entire set, and my tears were by turn tears of sorrow, tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of delight, and tears of love. I will remember D’bi.Young Anitafrika for the rest of my life, and so will everyone I will ever meet, because I am making it a point to tell everyone about her. P.S. She’s also a sweetheart, which is great…nothing more disappointing than when an artist you love is kind of a jerk, amirite?
I know WordPress doesn’t want to give you a preview of the video. Click on the URL. I promise it is worth the exercise.
I never (okay, well, rarely) go into a slam with expectations of winning, and I always try to keep my heart and mind focused on enjoying the beauty of the poetry I am taking in, and not on pesky things like points. The people competing in the finals of Hot Damn It’s A Queer Slam were the best of their cities – I knew the poetry would be juicy, juicy…and that the competition would be fierce. And it was. And it was.
Yes, that’s a trophy. A trophy for poetry. A trophy for poetry that I may have won by performing a poem about a certain vibrator.
Photography by Beth Murch © 2015
That’s right – I won! I think I might be even more surprised than you are, and I know that you are surprised! Not only did I receive this fantabulous trophy, I won a trip to Capturing Fire Queer Spoken Word Summit & Slam in Washington DC! This is an international spoken word and poetry festival, Friends. I think I might need to buy a new dress. Or, you know, a lint roller to get the cat hair off the dresses I already own.
Learn More About Capturing Fire
I feel incredibly blessed that the stars aligned in such a way that I was granted this opportunity. I am grateful for Cathy Petch, the slam’s creator and organizer, and everyone else involved. It was a gift to hear from all the poets – I laughed, cried, cheered, booed, hissed, clapped, and snapped until I had absolutely nothing left inside of me, and that says a lot coming from a big gal like me!
But hey, don’t just take my word for it. TOpoet wrote a great blog post about the event that got me excited all over again. You should totally read it:
“I Speak In Cursive” (also, not going to lie: I’m super jazzed that a line from my poem “Tongue” is the title of the post!)
My heart is filled with love and hope for the future.
This is one of the reasons that I am always covered in fur, even when I travel.
This is the other reason.