Haiku Overload

I’m preparing myself to compete in my first ever poetry slam on Friday, the Haiku Death Match, so I’ll be traveling down to Columbus tomorrow. And I get to visit my friend Joanna. Who’s the MC of said Haiku Death Match. I’m very excited and very nervous. I’ve watched this event for the last two years; it’s completely the reason I became obsessed with writing haiku. For a person who’s overly wordy and has trouble avoiding lavish description in her writing, haiku is very confining. But that’s the real challenge of it–finding the words to say something succinctly, yet poetically. I can’t say I always succeed; but in the cases where I have, I think I’ve done so quite beautifully.

Before Joanna asked me if I was serious about competing this year, I had about 25-30 haiku poems that I’d written this year and never performed anywhere. Some of them, though, were really timely and could not be used, such as a slew of St. Patrick’s Day poems from last year and some odes to U2. So once I committed to taking part in the event, I pushed myself to write some more. I needed to have maybe a few funny ones, some political ones, and–I supposed–some sexy ones. Yeah, sex sells after all, right? This crowd, being a bunch of artists like myself, seem to really like political (liberal leaning), funny, or sexy. Most of my poems tend to more on the serious side than funny. It’s hard for me to think of political commentary in poetry, but I did manage to write a few of which I’m proud–two that attack Sarah Palin, one that reflects my sadness over Ted Strickland’s loss of the governor seat in Ohio, and several that support LGBT rights. I’m hoping these go over well.

As for sexy? Well… Let’s just say none of these will be posted to my blog, so if you want to hear them/see them, you’ll just have to attend the slam. They aren’t so much sexy as self-deprecating about my sex life. I think these poems will go over well too because artists love a good pervy joke. And self-deprecation. The poem that went over really well at open mike last year was my innuendo-filled ode to my bike. So I hope I’m on target with the audience’s mindset.

I think I now have more than enough poems, but I’m still worried. If have to go second in a round, I have to have a wide range of poems to select from to try to match the type of poem the first person lays down. Tonight I think I need to pick out the ones that I could lead with if I get to go first. My strength is the serious poems and I want to try to lay those down whenever I can. There’s a certain strategy involved. Or I’m over-thinking it. I just hope I’m not so nervous that I can’t think straight enough to locate the appropriate poem to lay down during the round. I’m not good at thinking on my feet. Another reason I need to be taking part in this event.

I’m not expecting to win. I’m just trying to stand up and deal with an audience while performing my poetry. You know me and standing in front of an audience–it’s definitely a huge step outside of my comfort zone. It’s also going to be interesting to hear/see reactions to my poems. I’m sure some that I think are brilliant will get a lukewarm reception and vise-versa. It will be a very eye-opening experience. But necessary, really, for my own artistic growth, right?

Anyway, I thought I’d give you a little sneak preview… This is one of my favorite poems that I wrote a few weeks ago. It’s colored by my seasonal affective disorder, that’s for sure. Moody. I like moody, though.

Winter: cold as steel
My mind drifts to dark places
Waiting for the sun.

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