Full-contact poetry

From time to time, I have this … issue.

It’s not really an “issue” per se; it’s more like a loss of perspective, a slip in reality. Okay, that sounds bad. What I mean is, sometimes I don’t think I’m really an adult. Sure, I look in the mirror and, after I’ve finished screaming in horror, I see that, yeah, there’s an old broad standing there. But when I’m just thinking, or walking, or out at the movies, or at a restaurant with friends, or driving down the road, I tend to forget I’m allegedly a responsible adult. Instead, I think I’m 18 or 19 again, as thin and tight as a pair of expensive silk stockings with a cocky attitude and fantastic fashion sense – especially when it comes to hats.

I find it really tends to hit home when I’m signing school permission slips for the Goobers. I’ll be sitting there, scrawling my name on some form so they can go on the class trip to Afghanistan or take part in that exchange program where you work as a Sherpa on Mount Everest and it will suddenly hit me: “Shit, these people actually think I’m responsible for these children.” And then: “Fuck, I AM responsible for these children! I’m not old enough to take care of them! I’ve never babysat in my life! Who was the stupid idiot who allowed this to happen?” And then I remember I’m actually in my 40s and at one point gave birth to them and then the whole nightmarish weight of reality sinks on to my shoulders.

I’ve mentioned this “issue” to some of my friends, who assure me I’m not alone; there’s lots of people who feel this way. Of course, this statement is usually followed by sniggering poorly disguised as coughing. Then they quickly pull out their phones, bang off a text, which is typically followed by a quick succession of bings and then uncontrollable laughter.

Sometimes, as I sit in my tiny cubicle at work dreaming up editorial ideas or editing product listings about new micro-mist sprayer nozzles or which is the best pneumatic tire to use for preventing soil compaction, I’ll imagine what I’m going to be when I grow up. I currently have two front-runners:

  1. Be Hayley Williams, the lead singer of Paramore
  2. Become a spoken word poet

Let’s be honest here – Hayley Williams (@yelyahwilliams) is cool. She has awesome orangey-pink hair that looks amazing with everything she wears; she has fantastic fashion sense (I love those tights and the DWEEB T-shirt she has on in the Still Into You video); she can dance; she can sing; she looks great on camera; she knows and hangs out with lots of interesting people; and she probably has shitloads of money. And who wouldn’t want to ride their bike around the house? I could live with that.

But the spoken word poet thing is also very tempting.

A few months ago, a friend of mine posted the following viral video on Facebook showing Lily Myers, a student at Wesleyan University, competing in the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. The poem – entitled Shrinking Woman – was awarded Best Love Poem at the tournament.

And then I discovered Kait Rokowski and her poem – How to Cure a Feminist.

According to her website, Kait was ranked third in the world after the 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam and the 2012 Women of the World Poetry Slam. I couldn’t give a shit – she’s a world champion in my universe.

My exploration of spoken word poetry and slam – competitions where poets read or recite original works and are judged on the performance – also helped me discover Megan Falley and her poem – Fat Girl.

Plus Dawn Saylor and her heartbreaking poem – When I Was 14.

Since I’ve discovered these talented young women, I’ve been fascinated. This looks like fun. It looks empowering. It looks like a great way to get away with swearing like a sailor in public with minimal backlash, an opportunity I’m always searching for.

There’s just something about the idea of standing in front of a room full of people and spouting off a string of heart felt words – like “I hope monkeys rip off your danglers, you misogynist pig, and you feel the vengeful heat of the spirit vixen deep in your prostate” – before flashing your boobs at the audience, that feels very liberating. Of course, I might be confusing liberating with embarrassing – that sometimes happens to me.

Anyway, I’ve been working on some poems of my own. I’m afraid they have a real Charles Bukowski feel to them – a bit random, a bit biographical, a bit stream of consciousness with lots of sex and alcohol thrown in. But I promise they don’t mention cats or talk about sexy young girls that read my poetry and then want to spend the night with me, although that might make them more interesting and appealing to a certain type of audience.

Forget it, you misogynistic pigs!


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