Some of you out there in the blogosphere might remember that this time last fall I posted about entering my first poetry slam. Well, it’s an annual slam that happens here in Missoula as part of Festival of the Book (now called the Montana Book Festival) and I decided to sign up again. It was this past Friday night.
I ventured into writing spoken word pieces about 3 years ago. Not being overly familiar with poetry slams I didn’t realize, until a friend mentioned it to me, that what I was writing would fit right in with a slam platform. So I managed up enough huts-pah (aka courage) to sign up for my first slam last fall. I was the most nervous I ever remember being. But I did it!
For those of you who may not be familiar with how slams work they’re competition based and involve folks performing their own poetry that can run the gamut from simple stylistic poetry to verse to having a rap/hip hop flavor. There are judges and scoring involved for each piece a poet performs. A set amount of poets start off in round 1 and then that number gets halved, based on their scores, for round 2 and so on until 2 poets are left to duke it out for first place. In the annual one here that takes place as part of the Book Festival there are 4 rounds. Last fall I didn’t make it past round 2. I was in a slam, that had only 1 round, this past spring and took 3rd place. And in this most recent slam I took 2nd place.
But it wasn’t about winning, and still isn’t, for me. I do it because I enjoy the art of writing and spoken word and because it’s a good practice in sharing what I love to do. And it is a practice – which means it takes work, effort, and diligence. The more I practice the more I keep practicing, the more skill I develop, and the easier it gets. I revert back to this simple equation often. Practice = more practice = more skill = easier.
Sharing what we love to do, what we’re good at, what is alive within us and draws our attention with interest, is an important undertaking. For some folks that might come easily but not for me, and my sense is not for most of us. I have to practice stepping into the light of what I have to offer. It’s very easy to shy away from our talents, from what we love to do. It’s easy to undermine our own skills and undervalue what we have to offer the world. When I practice to share my love for writing and spoken word through the medium of these poetry slams what I’m doing is watering the seeds of my own confidence and stepping into ownership of the gifts I am afforded. It’s important to invest time into that which holds our heart’s focus.
I continue to practice embracing my skill sets – to practice not demeaning what I’m able to do well – to practice sharing what I love in hopes that others can benefit as well. Because when we can share what we’ve invested our time and energy into it can show up in the hearts and minds of others as nourishment and inspiration and give others the permission to share what they love too.