I'm hammering a poem into shape.
Last month, my university started a creative writing open mic night. I performed, and I'm going to say here what I haven't had the courage to say elsewhere: I'm actually really disappointed with how I did.
I hadn't known in advance that it was going to be competitive; I don't think many people did. I've never been a particularly competitive person, but once I knew that's how things were, I accepted it. I've been writing poetry since I was 14 or so, and I thought they were pretty good. What I hadn't thought about, however, is the huge difference between the verse you find in poetry collections, and the incredible passion and power of spoken word poetry.
I didn't expect to win, not once I'd seen Leeum perform. It was obvious to all of us, I think, that he is incredibly experienced at this; an extremely talented performance poet. From the beginning, when he spoke of "the rocks He told me not to throw," I was alert and listening more attentively than in any lecture. Anyway, my writer-crush aside, I didn't expect to win after that.
What sucked, and again this isn't something I'd happily talk about in person, is that I failed to come in the top four. Ben did. Ben, my housemate, came fourth with a poem I had helped him refine. It's a good poem, but Ben's a novelist now and poetry - well, poetry was always my thing. I was jealous. And disappointed. And when he confided in me, on leaving the cafeteria where the event took place, that he was disappointed he hadn't placed higher, I selfishly replied "Shut up, Ben. I can just about pretend that I don't mind not placing, but you have to pretend too." I'm not proud of this side of myself. Lately his success has been highlighting my insecurities, and through no fault of his own I've become a little bitter.
Since then, I've been working on one poem. Just one. Ordinarily I'd write two or three a day in one of my creative phases, but I'm trying so hard to get this one just right that I keep coming back to it and chiselling, refining, reshaping and rewording it. And next time - on the 25th of November - Leeum's going to be compering, not competing, and I'll hopefully be in with a chance. And Ben - well, if I'm not better than him at something, I'm going to cut his dreads off while he sleeps.
(Just kidding. I would never do that.)
I've been compiling this youtube playlist of my favourite spoken poems. By all means check it out! You might be surprised.