So last Saturday I took part in my first spoken word poetry competition and I learnt A LOT.
The Eko Literary Society is the premier society in Lagos for lovers of books, poetry and all things literary and they founded the Eko Poetry Slam, which in collaboration with Metro 97.7 FM and Radio One 103.5 FM, took place last Saturday. It would be the first edition. Their previous poetry slams have been in Abuja. Ken the Slammaster was our host, and I thoroughly enjoyed his witty comments at the end of each poet’s performance.
There were 35 of us contesting and three rounds. In the first round we all had 3mins and five judges chosen from the crowd scored each poet with numbered cards they flung up based on the quality of the poet’s content AND performance.
The ten poets with the highest totals moved on to the second round and I was blessed to be amongst the ten. This time we only had 2mins, which was fine cuz my poems are rarely that long. What wasn’t all that great was the fact that I choked. I forgot a line and have to take a second to reboot. This second cost me, as did the apparent fact that I wasn’t loud enough and I was too laid back.
So I didn’t make it to the third round which included six poets.
The prizes were N50,000 for the winner, N30,000 for the 1st runner up and N20,000 for the 2nd runner up.
So, what did I learn? That being a poet doesn’t make you a performance poet. As I watched my fellow participants raise their voices and drop their voices, bellow, sing, wave their arms or reach out, I realized that being a performance poet was tantamount to being an actor. It wasn’t enough to say the words, you had to deliver the words and give the audience room to feel as passionately about your topic as you did, even if ordinarily they would have been unable to empathize.
My suspicions about the topics covered by the average Nigerian poet were also confirmed, but that's a topic for another day.
Those who won certainly put their back into it and they deserved their titles.
If in fact, I want to continue to contest in slam poetry contests, I am going to have to come out of my cave and be willing to open myself up.
I will look out for videos of the event and upload them to the blog when I find them.