A Few Notes on Competition: WoWPS Post 2

5 May

I realize that by saying WoW wasn’t that much fun for me, I was implying that competition itself isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s a whole lot of fun. In this particular instance, I badly wanted to make a finals stage and I was getting impatient, so it was difficult to relax.

But being onstage is almost always fun to me (except in those scary, scary dreams), and performing the right poem at the right moment is especially enjoyable and exciting. Other aspects of competition can be fun, too: trying to beat someone whose haircut annoys you, for example. All told, the pirate queen in me occupies a very different territory from the bleeding-heart Californian (as some might see me), but when I slam, those two aspects necessarily have to coexist. The excited, fiery part that loves to battle and loves to win, and the sweeter dreamier part that loves connecting with people.

Rambling: It’s grey out, but a beautiful morning.

I care about writing and performing and connecting well, and I care about the game. If you consider games as a means to test oneself and be social, there’s nothing inherently wrong with them. If the recent past is any indication, I prefer to play Bully with John (Survivor) or Rob or Courtney instead of alone, and I never play Mario without Kate, Dave, Bekah, Courtney, Natalie, Rob or John (and we got Dad to play Mario once, right? but Mom didn’t play? but they both played some Wii Sports with us, which was cool. Emily Rose and her sister play Rock Band together, so that might be good as well.)

Suffice it to say I’m actually more interested in the interactive element of games. Khary has a sweet, funny PS2 poem in which he dreams of a “lovely Player 2” to join him, and that makes sense to me on a very elemental level. Maybe because my mom raised us to play cards together, don’t know. But I want to take a second to talk about aspects of the game of slam that I love and hate.

Winning isn’t everything, but winning is often good. Winning even the smallest slam implies a certain mastery of competition, of performance, of poetry, and love, I think. The love can be of the game itself, of humanity, of the attention and exuberance from being onstage, of moving one’s body beautifully or saying aloud words that sound and feel good together‚Ķ Don’t matter. To do well, you have to love several of these things, and they’re all cool. To do noticeably well consistently, and to stay a slammer over the course of many years, I think you have to love most of these things.

I repeat: winning isn’t everything. MANY of my favorite poets, and people, don’t win a lot of slams, or don’t slam at all. I like a lot of people who like slam partly because we share a common interest/obsession, and I respect people who slam well as coworkers and competitors, but in the end, slam is a game, and no matter how much I like them, a lot of things in life matter more to me than games.

Rambling: The sun came out. Maybe I should go to the library when my laundry’s done.

Cliques suck. As much as I love my slam family goodness, I never ever want to be a Cool Kid. If we take slam as a game to a sports level, I never want to be the hot quarterback who treats people like shit because they don’t hang out with him or do the same stuff he does. The almost completely insular nature of slam annoys me, and so does tribalism; folks have a funny habit of hating on scenes they aren’t a part of. Competition seems to bring that out in people more, but I guess we’re all pretty much programmed to hate on shit we don’t immediately understand or recognize. Losing to someone or something you don’t get or trust feels really fucking bad, and that feeling makes people act badly.

Slamming brings people together. I’ve bonded really deeply with most of the folks who have coached me and the ones I’ve been on teams with, and being a part of the game helps me to respect and connect with folks who live all over the US, and also in Canada and France.

Rambling: It was good to see Sierra, if only for a hot minute. Also, I just called a pouch of Bugler “my Preciousss”.

So there you have it. A couple of things about slam. Careful as I am, I’m sure I still managed to offend someone, but I simply don’t care. My next post is going to be about Finals, I think, a little on the game, and a little on the experience itself.


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