Poets compete in Northampton

Emily Worpek, Feature Editor

Poetry Slam is defined as a competition using elimination rounds for the reading or performance of poetry. Every Tuesday ‘The Deuce’ in Northampton holds a Poetry Slam competition featuring amatuer poets who take turns going up and reading original poems they’d written just for the occasion. Ten audience members are chosen at random to judge the contestants and the winner of the slam wins the grand prize of $50 with the runner up winning $25.

The first girl up was dressed in a tight-fitting galaxy print onesie. I heard someone whisper next to me that costumes aren’t allowed and the host of the night mentioned it too. The girl on stage held herself proud after dismissing the comment about her outfit, as she read her poem with such confidence it was almost seemed good. Confidence aside, her words were incoherent and there was seemingly no end to this run on sentence that was the thoughts of her mind vomited out into an audience of 60 people.

After a few more people went up, the most gothic girl in the building was called onto stage. It could have been the half shaved head, the spiked chain around her neck, or maybe it was the three-sizes-too-big tripp pants strapped to her waist that gave it away. The already drunk audience laughed at almost every word out of her mouth to the point where she could barely get a word out. This would be a compliment if her poem was supposed to be all humorous, but it was as if this girl’s form of expression was a joke to the far past tipsy twenty-somethings sitting in front of her. Her poem was a mash up of analogies to water and the ocean and metaphors about smoking that reminded me of something written by a wannabe lyricist.  

The next poet was a man who can only be described as ‘round’. His poem featured the words “funky love” that he would whisper so terrifyingly it made the hairs on my arm stand up every time he muttered those two words. If I had a penny for every time this man said “funky love” I’d have a enough money to buy a funky cab and leave that place. When he said the words “funky love” for the last time as his poem came to an end the best way I could describe how I felt was relieved.

A young girl came up, stylishly dressed, and proudly delivered her poem with the best conviction and clarity of the night. She told the audience that she doesn’t put on her tight fitting dress for anyone but herself and that the comments she gets from men are getting a little old. It was a generic story we’ve all heard a million times, where men need to learn that the can’t be saying sexist things to woman, but honestly, if they don’t get it by now, there’s no changing their morals. The first few years of the feminist movement were great and it had some great ideas, but if people haven’t understood how to treat women by now, an amatuer poet isn’t going to make it click.

It was obvious they saved the best for last. A young kid who looked like he was fresh off of Yale’s campus made his way to the stage. With his charming smile and a neat gray sweater, he looked like he could a kill a man and convince anyone he’s not guilty. His poem began simple. “Coffee shop: psych ward of the creative process.” One of the most creative lines of the night. Every stanza began with that phrase as he quickly recited a few of his experiences at a coffee shop and the conversations he heard around him as his anxiety heightened and even he ends it almost breathless yelling that his blood pressure is “180/f***”.

Whether you’re an avid poet or a straight-to-the-point kind of person, going to a poetry slam should be on everyone’s bucket list. In spite of its unpopularity amongst mainstream sources, it is an experience everyone should have. The audience at a poetry slam is unlike any audience you’ll ever be a part of. Everyone is supportive of the aspiring poets and it’s impossible to leave without becoming friends with at least one of the poets presenting. It’s worth it to to spend an evening at a poetry slam to broaden your horizons and you never know if you’ll be compelled to come back.