My new and exciting experience this month is attending my first ever workshop with the Binghamton Poetry Project., which is a weekly, five-week community poetry working/learning hour with (mostly grad) students from Binghamton University facilitating. Our facilitators present a topic, which includes a couple of example poems, and then we write and some volunteer to read what they have just written from prompts based on the poems.
This was week three, and I finally got brave enough to read my prior week’s poem at the beginning of class. In fact, I got so brave that I also performed the poem I wrote during class. I say performed rather than read because we had an introduction to slam poetry and our prompts were to try out the style, which isn’t meant to be read from the page but experienced in performance. I was (perhaps inordinately but quietly) proud of myself for attempting this, given that I am not current/hip/adventurous enough to have ever been exposed to the style, and more so because I was the only class member that actually was brave/foolhardy enough to attempt it, rather than writing something else that was in their head that had nothing to do with the prompts.
So, here I am breaking the rules, presenting my first – and perhaps only – attempt at slam poetry in written form, rather than as a performance video, because a) I am not technically able to produce and post a video, b) I am not skilled enough as a performer for it to really make a difference, and c) it’s easier to potentially embarrass myself once in a room of about twenty people than to post it to the internet where I could be embarrassed permanently.
Yes, I am a feminist.
No, I do not hate men.
Yes, I went to Smith, but
No, that does not automatically make me a lesbian,
– although what difference would it make if I was?
Yes, I am Catholic, but
No, I don’t just do what the bishop says.
Yes to primacy of conscience.
No to denying my own God-given talents.
Yes, my worth is not tied to money ‘cuz
No, I’m not paid for the work I do.
Yes, I’m a poet.
No, I’ve never sold a poem.
Yes, I make a difference.
No, you can’t make me feel worthless.
Yes, I have silver hair.
No, I do not qualify for your senior discount.
Yes, I am blessed – or lucky –
if you don’t believe in blessings.
No, I won’t stand for being abused
or letting others be.
Yes, I’ve got my troubles, too.
No, I can’t let them define me.
Yes to knowing who I am.
No to being stuffed into your stereotype.