What's more odd than two people wearing the same dress at prom? Hearing two poets state the same "drop the bass" line at an open mic poetry competition.
I only went to one Oversocial Mofo in my life. I heard great things about it: a great, fun open mic poetry show/contest with raunchy games in the middle and some music. When I went, there was already a huge line out the door waiting to be seated. Someone handed me a pair of underwear to be a judge for the open mic portion.
One vs one poetry competition. I thought, well, this will be interesting.
Everything was going and then these two competitors stepped up. The first started with his poem and in the middle of it -- silence, "depression," pause.
As a judge I was like okay, sure. That's nice. Nothing against people going through tough times and stating their emotion through it, but just stating the emotion doesn't compel me to want to know more and remember the poem.
His opponent goes up next and goes through with his poem and then:
silence, "depression," pause.
Why? why, why! I empathize with people going through such tough times, but back to back poets stating the emotion as though. This is just bad poetry.
As a judge, I had to choose between which of them had a better poem and I kept thinking I just heard the same poem twice.
Fast forward to the finals, one of the poets had a poem about how he was sexually abused as a child and he tried tell a teacher who told child protective services, but he was taken away from school not protective services. He is fine now, he repeated to himself, He's fine.
His opponent stated something about being depressed walking down the night streets.
I voted for the more descriptive one. That guy "won" and received five dollars.
This is what I took away from that moment:
1) It's a shared human nature to want to express emotion in the simplest terms, but it doesn't make good poetry. Depression is a far more complex than a "drop the bass" line.
2 )On the other hand, why overexpose yourself about depressive times in a poem? It's therapeutic sure, but personal poetry versus poetry for the masses are two different things. Write whatever you want personally, but when it's brought out -- then it's judged to be validated or invalidated as a poem.
As I left, I saw the dejected competitors lost who and I was wondering if they saw me as a judge of their struggles which I invalidated by not voting for them. I am not the judge of that. Poets are not their poems.