Sunday Sermon
"I Believe in Love..."

I love my people. To their credit, they love me, even when I am being a jackass. The following story is an example of my jackassedness...

So, there was a poetry slam this weekend. My beloved platonic girlfriend loves slams, and she was planning to read at this one. Now, to be honest, I hate poetry slams. I hate the whole idea of making poetry competitive. I hate the way that the beautiful sensitive poetry (like hers) gets pushed aside, and the wretched angry 'spoken word' bullshit gets the big scores. I have explained this to her and to the Flock, and I declined to attend the last slam on the grounds that it made me bitchy and angry just being there. Not many members of the Flock actually buy into my argument against slams, and I've been pretty bitchy about that, too.

As this slam approached, even more of the Flock were planning on reading. The sign-up sheet included a Deacon, an Apostle, an Alter Boi and an Inquisitor. The pressure on me to attend was mounting.

"It's not about the poetry, it's about community."
"I hate poetry, but I go to support my friends."
"It won't be as fun without you."
"I just want us ALL to be there - you know that our time together is short."

I was swayed by that last one. In a few short months Rachel, NerdyGirl, the Apostle Ben, Raksha, the Pink Princess, and The Hopeless Romantic will all be gone, graduated. Some will be in grad school, and some will actually be leading real lives in the real world.

So I decided to go. (Here is where the jackass part starts.)

To me, there is nothing more boring than a fight that I'm not in. I knew, therefore, that the best way for me to cope with the slam was to participate. I do, in fact, write poetry but I wasn't about to subject any of my tender poems to the grinder of the slam. Instead, I figured that I'd take this opportunity to prove my point. I printed out two of my best rants from the archives of this blog, and planned to give them both a loud, angry reading.

I opened with this, and the crowd loved it - I got the second highest score in the first round. I prepared to be just as obnoxious in the second round, reading this little gem. It too was well received.

I had people coming up to me, shaking my hand, telling me they loved my stuff. I even had two PhDs from the English department at UW tell me that they liked my work. [Sigh.] Thankfully, the eventual winner of the slam presented an actual poem in the final round, and the judges, to their credit, recognized it as such and scored it accordingly.

It seemed that no one had actually noticed that my stuff wasn't poetry. No one really seemd to care that I had gotten some very high scores just by reading old blog posts. No one, that is, except Rachel. As we were walking out to the car she quietly said, "I guess you proved your point."

She had given her poem a reading so good that it even made the line, "I belive in love" come across without any snickering from the audience, but it didn't score well enough to get her into the second round. As we were driving away from the coffee shop she said, "Next time, I should rant and use profanity in the first round, then in the second round, hit 'em with the love."

I felt like I had pulled the wings off a butterfly.

That's what it was about for her - love. I could have chosen to see it that way, but I didn't. I could have bared my soul as many of the other readers did, but I didn't. Even if I had just looked at it as an opportunity to educate others about poetry, I would have been better off - but I didn't.

It's a simple rule - it's always about love. Everyday, in every situation.

Go in Peace.


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