Monday, August 22, 2005

National Poetry Slam...damn 2

This means what you do to get ready for a thing.
This case, the thing is the national poetry slam.
so prep work ( TO ME) means:[in no order]
1- write poems
2-edit poem for content and time
3- memorize poems
4-rehearse rehearse rehearse
5-read in front of crowds/slam/features
6-get writing and performance critiques
7-work/rehearse with team
8-gel as a unit
9-go and whup some buttocks

Now, each person has their own way of doing this and should not be hindered in any way to reach the peak they need to in their own way.
However, if they are doing something, or are going to do something that will potentially harm the TEAM in any way, then the team should speak up and address it, or be damned for allowing it to happen.

The trick to all this is to have a group of people with a common goal. Without that, you're dead before you go. Your first goal should be to have a good time WHILE giving it your all. Winning should not be in the picture as it is an automatic device of the event. In other words, it is a COMPETITION, therefore it should be a given that you would like to WIN and will do everything in your power to make that happen. (notice i say 'should be a given')

How do you 'gel' as a team?
Do you have to be friends? No.
Do you have to like each others work? No.
Do your styles have to match or be similiar or sound alike? No. I would hope not.
Do you have to hang out? No.
Do you have to respect one another? YES.
Do you have to keep an open mind about each others opinion and work? YES.
Do you have to rehearse together? YES.
Do you have to discuss your poems before arriving? YES.

There is a reason it is called a 'team'. And in that there is a need for teamwork. No matter how polished, professional, big time you are; you can be better. Hell, the better you are, the more you need to do because the harder it is for you to notice things askew. The best teams repeatedly in National Level slams are the ones who work on it to death. Ask around.

I believe the secret to slams is to manage the little intangibles.
Follow me-
you've got your poems.
you're a pretty good poet.
you're ready to slam.

Now it is my belief that the blood, sweat and tears, to be cliche', that come out of discussions, arguments(if need be), rehearsals, etc., are one of the main things that separate good teams from poor ones, and great teams from good. Once you come out on the other side of practicing those poems with the people you will be on a team with, once you have went past the point of being sick of hearing their voice and your own and still sat and listened or stood and performed, once you know the inside and out of a body of work, THEN you will notice you walk a little diffferent, talk a little different. It is the internalization of the team's work that does that for you.

That great poem so and so has? You will discover it has some faults. That poem you weren't really feeling? You'll discover that it actually is pretty damn good. Your best performer? You'll note he or she does that thing with their hands and fingers that is a nervous tic and quite distracting.

Not to mention the bond that is formed. Our first year slamming at Nats, we had here what we thought was an kick ass team. We were VERY green about this thing called slam. We all weren't friends and our poetry couldn't have been more diverse if we had tried. But we did practice and rehearse and became this tightly wound unit. We went that year as a team, thick and thin. If we weren't together, it is my opinion that you could still feel the others as if we were all in the room or in front of you as one. It was the look in each of our eyes, to a man, that said I know I am not in this alone and I know this because I have already went thru these motions before I got here with my TEAM.

It was this attitude that got us love, sometimes moreso than our poems. It was this mindset that let us know when we 'stuck' the poem, when the crowd was digging us, when other poets were hating on us or just plain scared of this no one from nowhere team, and when we missed our mark and sucked.

This is one of the important 'intangibles' a team should have, in my opinion. It is also one of the things that was sadly absent from our team this year.

We had 3 very talented in their own rights-poets going to nationals from the same city to read poems and slam. We did not have a team. I would and have said this to anyone and stick by it. While it does not kill a team, and most certainly did not kill us, it, to me, does affect your team, and that it did.

In thinking of slamming on a national level, your personal preparation begins as soon as the last nationals ends. On a team level, your prep work begins NOT when a team is formed, but once you have gotten somewhat comfortable with your own work. Then you go to your open mics and slams and begin to look at the poets reading/slamming around you from the standpoint of a possible teammate. What would you tell them?
Hey, i love that poem about...
Hey, you know you touch your glasses or pick your nose alot when you slam?
Hey, I hear alot of stuff in that one poem you do that could be enhanced by adding a voice or if you did your hand like this to represent____.
Hey would you read this and tell mewhat you think?
When it is my turn will you take notes on what I do wrong?
Do me a favor and act like this is a slam and score me when I read.
Etc. Etc. Etc.

Anyone reading this that slams, no matter where you live-your prep time for next year begins-NOW.

Ditto fundraising.

Next Up- Day one of slam and sun.