The draft for this post has been sitting in my queue for so long I had to update the verb tenses. It seems trivial to even post this in these uncertain times but in the spirit of reading something other than news about COVID-19 and suddenly having a bunch of time on my hands due to cancellations, I decided to revisit my blog. So here goes my reflection on my Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS) journey.
Last year, I had been going back and forth about heading out on my own for this one. Originally, I had in my mind that I was going to throw myself a birthday party...a big one. Then the dates for WOWPS came out and I had to ask myself what I want. I didn't slam all last year...maybe I did just one time. Anyway, final stage night was on my birthday and I thought what other gift could I give to myself than to try this again and give it all I got. So, I didn't wait for a qualifier. I decided to send myself and paid the registration. I worked on new poems. I started going to regional slams to test them out, every time with WOWPS in mind.
My very first WOWPS was in 2016. It was in Brooklyn. I placed somewhere in the 70s out of 96 poets. I had dropped a poem that was super vulnerable and honestly I probably didn't practice it enough to feel the emotion and remember the words at the same time. But I had fallen in love with the experience. I was ready to try again the following year so in 2017, I competed in the Cap City (then Nitty Gritty) qualifier and won a chance to go back as the rep. I wasn't sure about winning but I was determined to do better than the year before. I also only had a couple of weeks to figure out funds. Not only did community help me get there, I left ranking 35 out of 96. It was about the rank but simply that I met my goal of feeling like I did better than the year before.
In 2018, I flew all the way to Dallas to compete in the Last Chance Slam which like the name signifies is a poet's last chance to enter the larger competition by winning that particular slam. There had been no qualifier and it was too late for me to register on my own. I didn't win last chance slam and was definitely in my feelings about going all that way and not technically being in the competition. I was also sick with a cold and dealing with allergies once I hit the warmer weather. But something magical happened. I volunteered. While volunteering, I became the calibration poet at the venues I volunteered at. I ended up performing more poems than if I had been in the actual competition! I also performed a poem for the Write About Now cipher which has since been put on YouTube and I sold almost every book I had gone there with!
So this year, I went to WOWPS in the spirit of all these years of preparation and the simple fact that final stage was literally on my birthday. Call me a dreamer, a believer of signs...it just felt so right! I started testing poems out at other slams...big ones in New Haven, Boston and just outside Orlando to prep for WOWPS. My first night, I got first and second in my rounds and I ended up being 12th overall. On the second night, I missed second place in both my rounds by only a tenth of a point and the reality of finals on my birthday was gone just like that. I'm not going to lie. I cried for a while. But the rest of the day was filled with ice cream, a birthday waffle and the cutest socks from my friend Bianca, tea with my cousin, book sales, a dope workshop with Ebony Stewart, cheering on my friend Liv who made it to final stage, lots of happy birthday wishes and the most amazing happy birthday serenade at the after party. I'm grateful still. I did all the poems I went there to do. I did the best I have ever done at any WOWPS I've been to. Not to mention, I ranked 21 overall and to add to that I turned 37 on 3/7 and what's 3 times 7? That's right! Twenty-one. (LOL) Makes me feel like I was right where I was supposed to be. And at the end of the day slam is a fickle game I love to play but it's not the world. I'm blessed to be doing what I love and to be surrounded by folks who love what I do and challenge me to be better.