On Friday night I participated in my first poetry slam. I signed up over a month ago for this annual event mostly because I was interested in taking another large step outside of my comfort zone and practicing to embrace my love of spoken word and sharing it with others. When I emailed a few friends letting them know about the slam and how I’d love to have some support in the audience I jokingly told them that if I simply was able to get on stage and not pass out then I’d consider it a success – mission accomplished!
I was incredibly nervous and over thinking each of my pieces to death on the night of the performance. To help cultivate some grounding energy before the slam I practiced walking meditation in an empty room upstairs from the venue. I also carried a sharpie marker with me to keep my notes and smiley faces on my hands visible, as they would quickly fade with my increasing nervousness and sweating. I wrote the word Breathe on my left hand pointer finger and had one smiley face on my left thumb and palm and one on my right hand to help remind me to breathe and smile. And while I didn’t use it I also brought my meditation bell with me in my bag – ya know, just in case :)
There wound up being three rounds in the poetry slam competition with 16 people participating. After round one 8 people got cut and after round two 4 people got cut. I made it into the second round but not the third round. So I did two pieces: Moment followed by The F Word. For my first piece the judges gave me a score of 9.2 out of 10, for the second round our scores were not mentioned.
While it was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done I enjoyed the challenge and the opportunity to step into a new realm. A lot of folks came up to me during and after the slam and offered words of encouragement and appreciation – and for that I am very grateful. As I shared with my sangha last night, I’m glad I did it, I would do it again, and I’m glad these poetry slams only happen once a year :)
by Nicole Dunn
We take things, we take life, we take now so seriously straight lipped, pursed tight, eyes taught with narrow sight one ear pickin’ up the static of a bunch of crap that doesn’t matter the other tuned in to the black hole of shallow chatter, like: “How are you” and “How ’bout this weather?” and “Yes, I am SO busy, it’s CRAZY!” To which I quietly reply: “Well, you actually don’t want to know so I’m fine, and what the sky is doin’ outside is just kinda as it needs to do and as far as your crazy busy lifestyle goes, well, ain’t no one in charge of that but…you. You could slow down if you really wanted to but you don’t.”
‘Cause you see, we’re uncomfortable with what comes up distraction is our drug of choice which numbs the senses and strickens our voices of intelligent, self-inquiring questions like: Where am I now? Am I watering this moment with compost or trash am I living well or just trying not to crash up into flames am I taking responsibility for myself or am I looking for something, or someone, or some place else to blame for my happiness? And now, well, you might not want to hear this, I mean it might make you mad but our quality of life is up to us the journey of joy is full throttle or bust depending on how we instill our trust in the here and now – when we live in the future, or live in the past we rest uneasy or we don’t rest at all If we set our goals too high we can set ourselves up to fall and if we keep the bar too low we can keep crawling but we never grow. This moment is precious our practice is weak let what matters the most not be at the mercy of what matters the least.
The F Word
by Nicole Dunn
I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, not as my social construct would dictate that word, that F word leaves a bitter aftertaste on my tongue when I say it, like, well, that other F word, New Age, or God. Now, now settle down ladies don’t get me wrong, I’m not sayin we should unturn that page that earned us the right to speak up or vote just maybe we could stop shy of emasculation and condemnation tote our chins down just a little more and quit the floating up on high above it all like we’ve got it all figured out as some superior gender that we’re not. When I think of the F word I think of taking things a little too personally and making every little thing a fight for this grand and fabled idea of equality which sounds good but isn’t quite right cause when we hold on too tight, regardless of what it is, we grasp with anger and fear, which can take us a long way but not close enough to hear the heartbeat of what really matters, which in my opinion is this:
We’re all in this together. No one is less and no one is better and yes even equality has its pitfalls because it’s a notion with a yard stick to measure our motion of progress – it’s kinda like lookin to the west for the rising sun our gaze is directed the wrong way. The words tumble out but we ain’t got nothing to say for the cause of humanity when we’re pitted against one another and it’s you verses me. The F word isn’t progress when held like a sword, we aren’t moving forward if we’re heading off to war so let us lay our arms down and unruffled our feathers to raise our voices not loud but together in praise of being not he or she but us and we interconnected in one big beautiful ever-changing dysfunctional community with shared joys and sorrows and everything that follows in the wake of being human.
The F word after all is just a word. But sometimes a word can become more than it bargained for it can gain speed and take flight and sometimes we gotta let go of not the cause but the fight, especially when there ain’t no end in sight for all of us left towin the line. Cause when it comes right down to it what’s yours isn’t yours and what’s mine isn’t mine – we can’t take it with us, everything gets left behind.
For the no frills youtube video of The F Word click here.