How the Toronto International Poetry SLAM launched me into #COMEBACKSEASON

On Sunday August 31st, 2014 I became reborn again in the art of SLAM poetry as I competed in the 12th annual Toronto International Poetry SLAM put on by Dwayne Morgan. It was exhilarating to say the least and I had butterflies doing all sorts of acrobatics in my stomach as I made my way to the show. I was steadily practicing my pieces with a fierce rhythm on that 501 streetcar as  I made my way towards The Great Hall on Queen West. I was a nervous but anxiously excited as I stepped into the venue…it was nostalgic (I had competed before in 2007). 

We drew numbers for order and I drew #2! My heart started to pump even faster as I realized there was not much time to practice before the show started. Anxiety was eating me alive as the show started, and when they finally called me up to the stage I struggled to keep my legs from shaking and have a confident strut to the microphone. Honestly, you would think this was my first time ever on stage. 

From the time the first words were let loose from my lips though I felt the surge of energy one only feels when you are connected to your surroundings. That energy of belonging, when you know this where you are supposed to be, right at that moment in time. It felt good. Like a high. Like an old friend that I had lost contact with for a long time and I basked in the comfortability and the familiar. By the time I got off the stage I felt the same way I see my students feel when I am teaching my classes….EMPOWERED. 

Performing at the Toronto International Poetry SLAM (Aug 2014)

Performing at the Toronto International Poetry SLAM (Aug 2014)

My voice was loud and unapologetic and my message was clear. I felt important and by that time totally forgot it was a competition as I just soaked in the fumes of high self esteem and pride. That is until they started putting up the scores lol. I was pleasantly surprised that I scored so high and even more shocked that I made it to the second round after hearing 23 other amazing poets do their thing on stage. 

The second round felt easier but too be honest I was disappointed in myself. I performed and older poem that I had memorized because I did not have the confidence in myself to make it past the first round and so I didn’t bother writing and memorizing and practicing a new piece. It was a valuable lesson learned in regards to self doubt…which I will never do again. 

Performing at the Toronto International Poetry SLAM (Aug 2014)

Performing at the Toronto International Poetry SLAM (Aug 2014)

By the end of the competition ( I stayed until the end) I felt full. For the first time in a long time I felt fulfilled, like I regained understanding of my purpose in life. I rediscovered my love for poetry and the stage and even competing (which I had convinced myself I hated for many years after failing to make it past round one 7 years prior). 

After that night I re dedicated myself back to my artistic craft. Since then I have written more new pieces, rehearsed more new pieces, put together even more teaching curriculums and booked more venues to teach in and I will definitely be at more open mics throughout the city. This is my promise to myself and to my supporters. 

It’s COMEBACK SEASON baby….and I AM READY!

 

Paulina

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