Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fringe Slamming

by Catherine Giordano

I took 3rd place in a poetry slam at the Orlando Fringe Festival. My score was only one point lower than the scores of the winners.

Slam Poetry is high energy performance poetry. Think of a rant, only with poetic technique.  Extra points for bawdiness.  There is a strong emphasis on story-telling, emotion, and rhythm. The poems are often humorous. If rhyme is used, it is manic rhyme. (You may have your own definition—this is my definition based on the slams I have attended.)

I hadn’t planned on entering, but the organizer needed more performers and asked if I could help out.  I hadn’t memorized or rehearsed. I had to read the poems from my book, The Poetry Connection. I had a couple of poems that could (just barely) qualify as slam poetry, so I took the stage.

My first poem was “Embracing My Inner Crone.” It details all the indignities and insults that nature inflicts upon the aging body, but ends on an upbeat note. I made it to the second round and performed “Old Witches Never Die,” a poem where I use witches as a metaphor for negative emotions like hate, shame, and envy. At the end of the poem, I urge everyone to commit witch-a-cide.

The other performers were magnificent; I felt totally outclassed. But for whatever reasons, the judges gave me high scores--scores comparable to the scores of the other performers. Maybe because my poems were more philosophical.  Maybe they just didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Maybe they were a little drunk--we were right next to the bar tent.

After a few of the competitors were disqualified for going over the three-minute time limit, I found myself in the semi-finals.   

It didn’t appear to be a serious contest. The prize was a chocolate Easter bunny. (Often slams offer substantial cash prizes.)  This slam was just for fun. Everyone appeared to be having lots of fun, especially one of the judges, an actress in one of the Fringe Festival plays, who rendered her judgments in character. 

I had a lot of fun. Thank you, judges, for your high scores.  Even with low scores, I would have had fun. But high scores made it a lot more fun.

I can’t wait for the next slam. I’m going to rehearse and memorize and work on a delivery that wows the audience.