This past week has simply been a blur and I cannot believe it's already come and gone. The 2009 Emerson College Slam Team- better known as The /B/ Team- had an incredible time in Philadelphia this past weekend competeing, sharing, and getting to know fellow poets. We made it to Finals Stage after an unbelievable Semi Finals round and placed FOURTH in the nation.
Here's a recap of events:
Monday: I flew into Boston to discover that snow does still exist and practiced with team for a good four or five hours.
Tuesday: Practice at Max's lasted THIRTEEN hours and we had some beautiful team bonding moments. Between the change in weather, the flight, and the long practice my throat gave out and I was on the verge of getting sick.
Wednesday: Everyone exhausted and feeling a little under the weather we held a slightly easier practice for a couple of hours before meeting up with Simone Beaubien for last minute feedback and practice and a last night at The Cantab.
Thursday: Bus ride at 7:30am with a switch in NYC, the whole team passed out and woke up groggy but excited in Philly. My throat was killing me. We made it to the hotel, checked in, got more excited, ran some pieces and showed up for our first preliminary bout at 9pm. We went up against Sam Houston University, Standford University, and Montclair State. There were barely enough judges and a cold room so we threw up "Elbows" in the first round, Carlos and Max's awesome duet in the second, George with a perfect "S is For Lisp" in the third, and closed out with Los's new piece "Nice Things." We edged out Standford for the win by .2 points!!! Los and Max's duet took the one for the scores for the night.
Friday: Los, Max, George, and I shared a room and slept in. I was sick so I took my time getting ready for the day and we run our pieces a couple hours before we go to compete. We went up against UC Santa Cruz, Niagra University, and Western Wyoming Community College. We know we have to take first or second in our bout to go on to Semi Finals and Santa Cruz is going to be tough competition. We start off strong with Max's "Ode To Heavy Metal," followed by George's "Lonely Hearts Club," Peter's "No Records", and me with "Carbureturs." The surprizzze of the night is our rookie Peter scoring with his persona piece "No Records" and taking the one in the bout! We took second place by just a few decimal points and spent the rest of the night trying to calculate if we were for sure in Semi Finals. After a terrifyingly long Coach's Slam/5th Wheel Slam causing me to debate whether or not I still liked poetry - we found out our Semi Finals round would include the following: University of Pennisylvania, UC Santa Cruz, SUNY New Paltz, and University of New Mexico. Tough competition but we were pumped!!
Saturday: After staying up until six in the morning, we slept in as long as we could before our Semis bout and then practiced the shit out of our stuff. We drew the B slot! What karma! This meant that we would be closing out the Semi-Finals bout and would follow the home team UPenn in every round. I was so nervous I went to the bathroom four times during the bout. Max went up first with "John Henry" and matched UPenn's powerful two person piece score. We then sent up Max and George's awesome Hip Hop/Metal duet - but it didn't get the crowd or score reaction we were expecting despite an awesome performance and I was legitimately worried about our possibilities of moving on to Finals. I was so excited to have already made it to Semis in such good company, but the scores were wicked close: everyone was within decimal points of each other. I went up in the third round with my piece "Shutter Dove" and gave a performance I was proud of. It's one of my most personal pieces and when I got off stage my friend Claire hugged me and I just burst into tears. Everything I had been feeling about that poem just exploded out of me and I was sobbing. The scores were good but not high enough to put us in the lead - we were tied with University of New Mexico and .1 away from UPenn. We had to get over a 29.2 to make it into Finals when we threw up Carlos with "Wet Paint". His performance was incredible (including a pick up and drop of the mic stand with the last line of the poem) - I have never been prouder of the kid. He killed it so hard we got a 29.4 and our ticket into Finals taking second place in Semis to UPenn. SO COOL.
Finals: We had a two hour break between Semis and Finals and we were fucking exhausted. We went to a tea house to discuss what was going to happen for Finals. The team was divided on whether George would perform on Finals or Peter. It went back and forth and the conversation was awkward but I have never been more awed by someone than I was by George. He selflessly and happily gave his turn on Finals stage to Peter against the team's vote, stating that he loved this team and that he had had these kinds of opportunities before and this felt correct.
Awards were given out on Finals before the bout - and Carlos was named "Best Male Poet" and Peter received "Best Persona Poem" which was awesome.
We drew the A slot and completely 100% went into the room with the knowledge that we had already won. We had such an incredible time - it was honestly one of the most relaxing experiences I have ever had at a poetry event because we just cheered everyone on and enjoyed everyone's poems and there was no pressure - we just had this huge bonus of getting to perform in front of everyone. One thing we were really proud of was that we didn't repeat any of our poems. Not a single one in the four bouts that we had in the four days we were there. We showcased ourselves and Boston and Emerson to the best of our ability.
Los went up first with "10 Parts"- simply stating that it was honor to kick everything off and plowing through one of the most energetic performances he has ever given of the poem. Max went up in the second round with "To Young Lovers" one of my favorites of his new pieces and had every girl in that room sigh in unison. Peter went up third with his poem "Philip" which is really personal for him and performed so well. The night could not have been more perfect as Los opened the Slam and I got the opportunity to close the entire shabang. Ben from UPenn went right before me and got a perfect 30 (actually a perfect 50) and the crowd went wild as they knew UPenn had just won. Big Poppa E quieted everyone down and said "We have one more poet in this Slam who still has the chance to come pour their heart out on this stage. Emerson who you sending up?"
Walking up to that stage was one of the most perfect moments, hugging everyone on the way and just being in a complete and utter state of euphoria. I wanted NOTHING more than to go to CUPSI and share "Open Letter To The Last Person I Will Ever Love" and that is exactly what I got to do. I got to proclaim how I will fall in love and it is possibly the best moment of my life. It was so pure and so simple and so beautiful and I was so unbelievably happy to share that moment with everyone in that room, especially my teammates.