Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thoughts Before the Slam

As many of you already know I have a poetry slam on Saturday. But this is not any ordinary slam. These are the finals. Twelve poets will compete in a three round, no elimination slam. The scores from all three rounds will be added up for each poet. The four poets with the highest cumulative score go on to represent Tucson at the National Poetry Slam. I haven't wanted anything this much in a long time.

I know that the point is not the points, that the point is the poetry. My mind knows that, but no one bothered to tell my gut. Normally with poetry slams I want to do well, but only for the sake of the audience, and the opportunity to read more poems. Now I not only want to do well, I want to do better than eight other poets. I'm not a competitive person, which is why I'm freaking out, because I'm forced into a competitive mindset. I remember Logan Philips telling me that nervousness and excitement are the same emotion. But that is not what I'm feeling. Its not nervousness. The only word I can think of is fear. A huge "what if" hovers over my head. I don't want to think about what will happen if I don't make it. I don't know if I'll be able to support Tucson team if I'm not in it. I know that sounds awful, and I hope I won't feel that way, but I don't know.

Last night I had a dream. It began as a great dream. I was watching a new anime series. It was amazing. The art was breathtaking. The plot twists had me jumping out of my seat. The relationships between the characters were incredibly complex. I was horrified, touched, and inspired all at the same time and it was beautiful.

Then I realized it was 8:00 and Saturday. The slam finals had begun an hour ago. I clumsily called my mother, and barely stuttered out the word "finals". The next thing I knew I was screaming into the receiver, "TV IS EVIL! TV IS EVIL!" and trying really hard not to cuss to my mother. I had missed the finals and it was my fault. Then I woke up.

As soon as my heart stopped hammering I began to think about the dream. My mother and father are reading on Saturday and would never let me miss something this important. And there's no way anime that awesome would air at 7:30 in the U.S.

I realized that the dream was a manifestation of my fear. As soon as I realized this I was comforted. I did not dream that I froze on the mic, or that I got straight 1s, or got booed off the stage. The worst thing that could happen would be for me to miss it. I'm a good poet. I'm a good performer. I know what I'm doing. Its going to be alright.

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