Always in Contest

Learning about poetry in school is not fun

this is what all of my classmates would say

It was not unusual for me to be the odd one out 

so today was just an ordinary day 

Poetry and I had a good relationship 

it was one of the only ones that I had at the time

I didn't just leave it in the classroom

not even in my purple binder for English 

I took it with me everywhere I went 

This is not just a metaphor used for this poem 

Poetry defined me 

And I always seemed to be in a contest


This started when I was in the fourth grade 

I only stood a few feet tall in front of judges three times my age

but there I stood reading a poem out of a little black book

I could barely even read at all

it was about a little lamb that was in a scary situation 

she had to figure out how to not be eaten by the big bad wolf 

she cleverly gets him to eat a hamburger instead

in the end, she was triumphant 


Middle school swung around in a few short years 

I couldn't shake the feeling that this contest 

was a lot different than the rest

many of my friends had gotten bored and quit

But I could not seem to leave it behind

I continued for many years 

reading poems of all kinds

silly ones and scary ones 

In an instant, I was in the mind of Roald Dahl 

and I was escaping from mine


In High School,  everything seemed to get a lot more serious 

This includes my poems

I said so long to the little lamb 

as I started my love affair with slam

All of the sudden it wasn't just a contest

I took a stand on immigration 

on rape 

and mental illness 

my coach let me choose what was important to me

I will never be able to thank her enough

I started to realize that not only can poetry be my therapist 

but it is other people's too 

I stitched together poems from other artists

each more talented than the last

6 poems in seven minutes 

not just to win 

but to fight 

All of the sudden I was contesting a world that didn't pay attention 

I knew that poetry couldn't solve all problems 

but speaking up was increasingly  important 


in the end, it didn't matter if I won 

because poetry is not a contest 

but poetry contests many of the problems of the world 

and on a smaller scale, it contested mine 


There were many triumphs in my career 

just like there were many setbacks 

but four years is much like the speed of light 

I blinked and all of the sudden it was gone

There is no speech and debate team at the college I will be attending 

but if there is one thing poetry taught me

it is to never give up 

I will be working towards creating a team

just to find a way to keep spreading a message through my little black book


An ode to slam poetry 


if I look back at the fourth grade 

I was taught such an important lesson

that little lamb realizes she is in trouble 

but she does not fight with guns 

or fists

or any sort of violence 

She fights with her cleverness and her words 

just like the poets who create 


or rather 


use our words to fight our battles 

whether they be our own or those battles of others 


So here is to speech and debate 

to poetry interpretation 

to let a teenage girl spread messages through poems 

through powerful words 

and metaphors that  

may have a double meaning 


Here's to finally realizing why

I am always in contest. 





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