There’s been a recent on-line conversation about ‘trauma for points’ at slam competitions. At a Hot Damn It’s A Queer Slam – a year or so ago one of the slammers did such an emotionally charged piece they re-experienced the trauma that was the basis for the piece & ran off stage & outside. The piece was so emotionally charged it was impossible to judge – was it well written? Who knows. If you didn’t score the piece high enough were you diminishing their experience. It was one of the reason I stopped judging at slams.
Between WWI & WWII poetry underwent a psychological change in which the narrative/pastoral lost out to confessional ‘do I dare walk with my pant legs rolled.’ From Eliot’s surrealism to Sexton’s ‘I hate you Daddy’ authenticity became paramount. Poets who weren’t revealing something emotionally vulnerable about themselves weren’t authentic.
Poetry that wasn’t ‘insightful’ was considered entertainment – almost as bad as being greeting card sentimental. If you didn’t have trauma you didn’t have authenticity. If you had a sense of humour, even a sense of emotional balance one wasn’t a serious poet. This ran/runs though much of the serious writing arena & is heightened in the slam scene. Anger isn’t as point worthy as rage – rape is authentic – romance is sentimental tripe.
On a recent episode of Project Runway the designers were tasked to make a garment that reflected their ethnic culture. The Latino made a dress that incorporated the names of children who had died in custody crossing the border. His explanation was emotional & resonant – the garment was not good though – so the judges had to do this dance between sentiment & practicality.
Slam judges often are confronted with this same dance – often though they favour the emotional as opposed to the actual use of language. They want to be nice. I was happy to stop judging because I’m not interested in being nice.
it seemed like a good idea at the time
everyone was so gung-ho
until they realized
they would have to do something
to make it happen
expecting me to do it all
was part of their plan
sure I thought their idea was great
but I’m not a one man show
as much as I’d like to be
as much I as I know
I would be better person
for being willing to do it all by by myself
I’m not going to even try
when that become clear
their energy began to wane
it didn’t seem so wonderful after all
making things happen
isn’t such fun after all
why can’t someone else
do all the work for us
while we sit back
& enjoy the results
the rewards should be ours
for the thinking
thanks to someone being
consistant and eager
to take each demanding task
and fulfilling them
to our specification
yes that gives us energy
but faced with having
to do it ourselves
we grow diffident
while looking for the right person
to save face
the next fast flash of inspiration
will have to require
even less than thinking
Richard III – Stratford Festival
June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival
Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee
at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC