My first Slam! Poetry as experience art, delivered as performance art

Over morning coffee recently, I started thinking about the Beat Poets and cut-up poetry and choose-your-own-adventure books and hyperlinked fiction. There had to be a way to turn Internet surfing into a kind of 'experience art.' I was thinking about what I could create if I had the technical know-how, when I started writing a poem about it.

Soon after I received a reminder from the WCDR about their upcoming poetry slam competition. My piece felt like spoken word so I fired off an email stating my intention to perform. I should explain that I have my son's teen French exchange buddy living with us so we're extra busy. I had three days to rehearse, including two at my parent's cottage. I also have a longtime fear of forgetting lines in public. It's the reason I love improvisation but have never tried any serious acting. Let's say I spent a lot of the car trip desperately saying my lines in my head while the boys slept in the backseat.

I was delighted to get through my piece Monday July 7th but even happier to make the finals.

The finals Saturday were exciting but daunting when I realized there would be a camera as well as the live audience. My poem was well-rehearsed this time but I didn't expect to win. Who expects to win with their first effort? I performed, enjoyed the applause and basked in positive feedback, including from guest slammer Cathy Petch who performed as the votes were tallied.

I've deliberately written non-fiction and stories and I have several novels in various stages of editing. It's poetry I write the least and never deliberately. That's why it surprises me that I've had recognition for "When Johnny Mars Turns Five," publication of "Fallow God," in the Urban Green Man Anthology and made the finals with my slam, "Found Poetry Finds You." Perhaps the poetic muse exists after all. Perhaps there's something in the coffee.

Now if I could just figure out how to automate cut-up poetry...

Happy writing,


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