Now, the process of poetry is not a simple one. There are no directions – you’ve got to find your own. When I did slam poetry for my ZAP project, it definitely had its obstacles! Yet the process became so different when done with a partner.
I co-wrote and co-performed this poem with Anika. We actually work incredibly well together, we were lucky! We were able to retaliate off of each other’s ideas so easily, so seamlessly. We were able to stay productive during our meetings while still having fun. I’m glad we shared such similar views on things and were both able to relate to what we wrote, since it was a pretty personal topic. I really enjoyed working with her through this entire project!
On November 25th, when we first embarked on the journey of writing a team piece, we started by just brainstorming. Writing down every possible thing that came to our minds (this sheet is included in my physical doc of learning), because idea splurges really can help. This was after watching a few team pieces on YouTube, of course, just to get a better sense of what our final presentation may resemble. We called out random things, inspiring each other with every word. We were just really excited about this! She would say things that would spark something in my head and I would build on it even further, and vice versa. After that big brainstorm, we were left with quite a few big ideas, but we were glad we got all our initial ideas down. We did come up with a topic through this, but later we realized it was much too broad.
That’s what our next meeting was for – narrowing and sharpening our topic. We took all the ideas we had, omitted some and added some more relevant ones. This was where we really communicated what we wanted to achieve with this poem, what we really wanted to say. It was really interesting to hear both of our perspectives on what we were talking about, for although they revolved around the same topic, our own creative voices differed the way we thought. It was amazing to use both of ours in our final poem! We realized that with all the ideas we had, there were a lot of directions we could take the poem, and we would have to decide on one. We created a sentence that captured our narrow down ideas as a whole. We now had a semi-clear path of where we wanted to take this poem, and we had a very basic “beginning,” “middle,” and “end.” After having that down, we started working on the structure of our poem and placing all of our points. We wanted to make sure we had a conception of how things would play out in our poem, and what the “resolution” would be. We even made some specific lines that we came up with and wanted to implement in the final product! In the end, the topic of our poem was very different than what we first thought it was going to be, but that’s all part of the process. We learned that in poetry, it’s way better to zoom in and focus on a specific aspect of something rather than a huge spectrum.
The next meeting was where we needed to actually start writing the poem, for there wasn’t too much time left. We sharpened the structure of our poem, and ordered all of our ideas in an organized fashion. After having all the points we wanted to hit laid out in an organized fashion, we got to writing! We started writing the first draft of our poem, ignoring pronouns (which we knew from the beginning would have an impact on our poem). We just wanted to have something written down. At the end of this meeting, we had about half of the beginning of the poem written.
We headed to the library for our next meeting on December 6th. We decided beforehand that there was no way we were going to leave this library without having a complete poem written down, and we didn’t! We actually finished writing our poem! I was proud of us, and we celebrated with hot chocolate. This took a very long time, however, almost five hours straight. There were a lot of times where we just sat in silence, completely blank. We learned to say whatever was on our mind, no matter how stupid we thought it might sound, because anything we thought had the potential to be built upon. It was really handy to have that sheet with all of our ideas, because we were able to turn them into something else that related to what we were currently writing about. The poem structure sheet also helped too, so that we could make sure we hit all of our points. However, a lot of things popped up in our final poem that wasn’t even in the first brainstorm. I guess that’s how inspiration works, it’s unpredictable! We were incredibly happy with the turnout, and we assigned each other specific parts. We also revised the pronouns. Every time we were speaking separately, we would address the line as “you,” and whenever we spoke together, we would say “I.” It made it pretty powerful, I think. Then, when we got to the part of the poem where everything changes, so do the pronouns. We break the “rules” we set for ourselves, and introduce the pronoun “we.” Even if it wasn’t too noticeable to the audience, it heightened our delivery of the poem. Speaking of which, this was the day we went through our first spoken run-through, and it definitely wasn’t pretty!
For the next few meetings, all we did was practice delivering the poem. In slam poetry, delivery matters as much as the writing. Of course we changed a couple of lines here and there, but it stayed the same for the most part. We went line by line, coming up with how we wanted to say it. Of course some of it came naturally, but we wanted a baseline, especially for the lines we spoke together. We raised or lowered volume, sped up or slowed down, said things powerfully or with no emotion all for effect. And when we did our presentation in front of the class, it definitely had the effect we were going for! We also came up with synchronized hand gestures, which really gave our poem that extra something.
Finally, it was the day of the presentation. We were as ready as ever, although it terrified me to be first. It went amazingly, though! I was so, so happy with how it turned out, and the effect it had on the audience. I really felt the emotion behind the words in the final presentation, and the power came through even more.
All in all, this project was a HUGE success! I’ve actually never worked with anyone on something like this, something so personal and so subjective, something that requires creativity. I’ve always done things like this by myself, never wanting to open up my artistic thoughts to someone else. I am so glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and worked with a partner, it was an amazing experience! We had loads of fun, and our friendship actually became stronger through this. We attended poetry club meetings together, the Gleneagle Slam Night as well poetry events at Cafe Deux Soleil! It was amazing to see the poetry culture live and unadulterated. I learned so much through this project. How to work, write and perform with another person, how to organize your ideas, methods that work well for structuring your poem and how to portray emotion through words. The experience of watching slam poetry live and meeting fellow poets in Vancouver was incredible, and pretty indescribable. I’ll never forget it. We both have a strong passion for poetry, and I cannot wait to see where this road takes us.
When we’re by ourselves, we’re never alone but always lonely.
See there’s people all around you, but you’re a Sparrow trapped behind glass
Your suffocation eats you alive but they’re all watching, waiting for your bird song
Blinded when your lungs are collapsing underneath those pretty feathers
But lately my song has just been a series of silences that last too long accompanied by the sharp notes of others emotions and I just can’t seem to find my own anymore
They say a relationship should be interdependent, balanced, each partner giving as much as they take
But I’m always giving
They seem to be running low on
My steadiness, my sureness, my soundness
And you’ve got plenty to spare
But with every unreciprocated trade you become soundless
I’m running out of things to give
Don’t get me wrong, your biggest fear is the day when your ashes outweigh your fiery throng and you cannot keep them warm anymore
Because your burn out will be their downfall, their downfall is your affliction,
My happiness is their happiness.
You get caught up in all their storms, but the only role you have to play in a storm is the eye
You’re good at pushing your emotions down, in hopes that they get lost in the corners of your mind
But showing my inner self is not my area of expertise, you were not taught to let yourself go and expose what you desperately want someone to hear
But that’s not my place.
You are not a mouth, you are an ear, and I guess when you see an unfinished puzzle you can’t help but complete it
I’ve put myself into this cycle where I don’t remember what it feels like to be warm anymore.
Your sweater is turned inside out
And you’re holding everyone close to your chest but I’m freezing
I’m in a snow globe, my eternal, internal winter
But with you, I don’t feel like a burden anymore.
We are interdependent, we are balanced, we have an equilibrium of give and take.
It’s only natural that we wove together to create our own sweater, and when the seams came undone, you sewed them back together
It was the closest thing to a hug I’ve felt in a while.
I’ve always been okay by myself, and I never thought I was a jigsaw that needed completion before you waltzed into my puzzle
We relearned things together, got a better grasp on what we were already holding onto, things we already thought we knew
I never thought there was more to me than me, that the sum of my parts was bigger with you.
It doesn’t matter if my glass was half empty or half full, because right now, ours is filled to the brim.
I’ve been shown a place where I don’t always have to be strong, where I’m allowed to let myself go
Needless to say, I would never let you go.
Your steadiness makes me feel reassured
Your sureness makes me feel steady
I am safe
I am sound
I don’t feel like a burden anymore.