Warning** long post, about a good topic

Hello TALONted friends! It’s been a while, but after being sick, then my mentors busy spring break schedule, it was challenging to organize a meeting. However, I got my ‘mentor time’ in, and am ready to share!

Emma and I usually meet after school, in one of the study areas, but because school is not in session, we decided to meet at a different venue. Instead, I found myself in a crowded Starbucks at 5:30 at night, discussing in-depth with my mentor. While this may sound like an inconvenient place to hold a meeting, it was quite the opposite. We found a little booth in the corner, which was a little quieter, and got to work. The cafe style, was great for my creativity, and even drew a small audience. (More on that later)

We started out by reviewing the four pillars of SLAM poetry
-Topic
-Development
-Diction
Then Emma taught me a bit about Delivery; which, while it is only 1/4 of the four pillars, Emma and I agree that it counts as 1/2 of the poem. While some poems aren’t meant to be performed, those that are, need to be showcased well. If you have an amazing poem, but no one can hear it, and doesn’t know what it is about, it doesn’t matter how well it was written. This ideology is referred to as Page and Stage, I learnt. What is written on the page, needs to be delivered on the stage, but what is said on stage, should have been previously put on a page. I found this really interesting, and I agreed, however, to me, sometimes delivery is the entire poem. As Edward de Bono has made clear on page 54, “You can suggest alternatives and possibilities, either to the whole proposition or to some part of it.” So I gave it a shot. “Hear me out,” I said to Emma.
“When we were at the Cafe deux Soilels cultural event (Emma happened to be there as well), there was this poem that was performed by someone with a lot of emotion. Her poem was written with so many layers of metaphors and figurative language, that I had no clue what she was talking about. By the end of the poem she was in tears. The poem made me feel stupid, because I didn’t know what it meant, but it still spoke to me. Although I didn’t understand it, the performance that she put on made it my favourite poem. Tell me I’m crazy, but I think delivery can sometimes be worth more than half the poem.” She responded with,
“Yes, I have heard poems like that before. Although I have never tried it, it is supposedly a technique, to confuse the audience with a poem. By making them feel stupid, they continue to think about, and ponder that poem, until it means something to them. I suppose it could look like delivery being important, but she was probably trying to confuse us, to help win.” I found that interesting, and would like to try it one time. After thinking about it, I realize just how challenging that could be though. A lot of my poems don’t make sense, because I’m not wording them in the best way possible; Emma has been helping me with that though. I feel like if I tried to write a poem like that poet did, I would be the one that sounded stupid, and I would have troubles finding good vocabulary to use. I suppose that this kind of poem could be a future challenge for me, once in-depth has finished.

While talking about delivery, Emma brought up Freytag’s arch again. (Check my last post for an explanation on that.) She said that the delivery, and development arch, needed to match. If you are talking about a really sad thing that happened, but you are smiling and talking loud, the poem won’t make much sense.

She also said that every poems delivery should be different. She brought up that, “The delivery should never be formulaic”. I had to look up formulaic when I got home. She says to stand in front of the mirror, and try your poem doing ten different things. “Do all the wacky things you’ve never done before, do it for fun!” She told me to go home, and recite one of my recent poems, about wearing makeup, in six different styles. I need to try making my voice really high at different points in the narrative, or do wall-pushups while reciting it. I need to come back to our next meeting, with my favourite one of those styles. It should help me get to know the poem better, and choose a new way to perform it.

I noticed something whenever I watch poems on youtube, or at Slams, which I asked Emma about; the poet always walks onto the stage, and takes a moment before stepping up to the mic, and delivering their poem. I wasn’t sure what they were doing when I performed at the Hullabaloo qualifying SLAM, but I figured it was some kind of rule that I had never heard of, so I tried it as well. Emma laughed, and said that the poets were doing a variety of different things. Some just use this time as a mental check, to calm down their nerves before starting. Poets, like Emma, visualize the tone of voice that they will be using at the main points in each part of Freytag’s arch. While other poets wait for the audience to calm down after hearing a poem beforehand, that had an opposite emotion to the poem they were going to deliver. Or “Let the last poem dissipate and leave everyones minds,” As Emma put it.

She said that lots of poets also have a signature move that they do, before the delivery of their poem. Emma rubs her thighs, while her mentor, Jacob, straightened out his collar. “It’s helpful to do something familiar, when your up on stage, to calm down” says Emma.

I also tried asking my mentor a few multiple choice questions, but every time I did, it proved useless. She would come up with a ‘none of the above’ answer, and just use paragraphs to relate the question to other things I had learnt. It probably would have been more time efficient, if I had just asked the original question, without a variety of possible answers.

Honestly, whenever Emma and I meet, “[We] have as interesting a time as possible in the course of the discussion” (de Bono 53).

Oh, and as promised earlier, a story; I was reciting one of my poems to Emma for feedback, and was quite proud of it. I subconsciously was speaking loud in a very busy place. When I finished, I looked up, and saw three people clapping and smiling. As de Bono says on page 143, “Your first reaction is likely to be based on a feeling or emotion.” At first I was uncomfortable that they had heard that poem, because while I was proud of the poem, and okay to share it with Emma, I didn’t really intend for anyone else to hear it. Because of this I kind of smiled meekly, and shyly. However, I realized that they didn’t mean to intrude on my personal life, and probably didn’t hear the whole poem, so my smile grew, and I thanked them; Emma just laughed at me.
Until next time!
-Mackenzie