As a preschool teacher, I did not encourage competition. Throughout my life and in viewing the lives of others (professional athletes, cyclists, poets, authors, models, artists, parents, kids, lovers), I have seen that nothing is ever enough. Winning is the only thing we want. But when we get it, it still is not “enough.”
I like sharing poetry. I like writing poetry. I like poetry. I like when others write and share with me. But I think poetry competitions are stupid. Still, the stupid thing known as poetry slams (poetry performance competitions) attract poets, audiences, energy, attention, and excellence. And none of that is stupid.
Last night I won my third poetry slam. I have won in Portland, Little Rock, and Springfield now. I’ve taken a second in Austin, a third in Omaha, and plenty of the prior in Portland. I have featured at slams in Jackson and Pittsburgh. I have also lost even more poetry competitions.
I will never feel that I am the worst poet, nor the best. I will not focus on that. I may never even feel that I am validated as a poet. What I know is that I need to write. I need to express. I need to ingest others’ expressions. So I show up, anywhere and everywhere, in houses, on street corners, in bars, churches, parks, cafes, and schools. Sometimes–only some of the time–I show up at a poetry slam. And the moment I walk in the door, I cannot care what happens beyond sharing the best I have and want to share, without apology. I love you.