My breathing gets faster. My voice is too loud and then too quiet. The dark of the room threatens to envelop me as I try to choke the fear down. I am trying so hard to focus on the words on the paper in front of me. My innermost thoughts sound so foreign coming out of my mouth. Fortunately, my stuffed animals don’t seem to care.
This is the beginning of my long road to entering in the poetry slam presented by the Maricopa Arts Council at the Maricopa Public Library. On October 27th local poets will perform the words they have put down on paper for the sake of competition and the arts.
The official description of the event released by the Maricopa Arts Council states that this free event will take place in two parts. From 5:45 to 6:30 pm there will be a Kids Poetry Open Mic for students in Kindergarten through grade eight followed by a brief break for refreshments. Those who wish to enter the poetry slam must register during that refreshment period from 6:30 to 7:00. Only the first fourteen poets to register on the night of the event will be allowed to compete. Three rounds will determine the three victors before the event concludes at 9:30.
According to Judith Zaimont of the Maricopa Arts Council, judges will be chosen from the audience by the Slam master, nationally recognized poet Bernard Schober. The three winners will have the opportunity to compete in the all-state slam which will be held at the Honeycutt café in Maricopa.
Interestingly enough, both Zaimont and Erik Surber, the director of the Maricopa Public Library, emphasized that the artists will perform their piece. “Just reading your own words is usually a negative,” Zaimont said, “they need to be brought to life in the moment.” Immediately afterward she noted that poets must stay within the time limit and not use costumes or music. However, Surber claimed the poet is free to be “intense and confessional, and because these are adult slams, they do not have to be G-rated.” Both parties seem very interested in making sure that the poets of Maricopa get recognition for their talent of turning a pen into a sword.
Surber gave a little bit of background on this event and how the library came to collaborate with the Arts Council. He recalled an open Mic poetry night at the library; at that time the Arts Council was hosting poetry slams in a local coffee shop. “The Maricopa Arts Council suggested we add to our poetry events and asked if we would host a Poetry Slam,” he said. Surber also mentioned that he wants to create more after-hours events like this one.
Until Oct. 27th, all I can do is revise and revise and perhaps revise a little more. I really want to create something worthwhile, and I will keep trying. I hope the judges aren’t as strict as my stuffed animals.