The Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS) is a yearly Poetry Slam tournament put on by Poetry Slam, Inc. that pits individual slam poets from around the world that “live their lives as women”against one another. The great city of Austin, Texas, played host to the WOWPS from March 20-22. In celebration of March having been Women’s History month and this month, April, being National Poetry Writing month, we wanted to highlight some of the best and brightest. Click the links below and enjoy some great poetry. Join the party by writing a poem a day in April. For the full list of winners or more on WOWPS visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_of_the_World_Poetry_Slam.
There comes a point in a woman’s life
When we stop to ponder yesterday
The transformation from then to now
People we’ve met and been along the way
The prompt of the musing comes
In an array of fashion
An old photograph
A familiar scent
The recent exodus of a lover
Whose footprint led us to the father whose
Humanity broke our hearts first
Spring cleaning is when it happens to me
When finally I give those favorite pair of jeans
Fashionably faded perfectly at the knee
To the local Goodwill, Salvation Army or my favorite niece
This time I will not convince myself that
One day they will fit again
Or that I will suffer to commute myself into
The woman bygone again
These jeans will not ever kiss these lips
Or hug these cheeks again
The beauty finally
Is that I don’t want them anymore
They are not quite big enough
To hold the woman I am today
These jeans belonged to a girl
Whose favorite song had more to do with
How she could move to the bass
Than what she could learn from the lyrics
And she wore them well
Model thin with flawless skin
And the insecurity of a thousand impotent men
A good girl who compromised until sacrifice became her addiction
I am not so flexible
These are her jeans
They don’t fit me
Whether a fan of spoken word poetry, live theater, or simply a fan of people in general here is something that you are certain to enjoy. Donny Jackson, in collaboration with Green Way Arts Alliance presents, a compelling night of theater and spoken word.
One Man Shownis delivered in stories by a grandmother, police officer, African girl, and hate crime survivor—among others—prismed through poetry and punctuated by music and projected images. In a grasp at finally growing up, One Man Shown travels from a teenage boy’s early reality check from his mother,through the joys and tumult of romance, the stark and brutal lessons of sexual identity in America, and the global attack on women and femininity. A parade of necessary angels, the characters illuminate the painstaking craft of adulthood, including the reassuring tug at the anchors of stable men in the author’s life, facing the devastating quake of loss, and, ultimately, forging a voice in the world as an artist and a man
One Man Shown is a celebration of language and performance, but, at its core, it is a declaration of a desire to push the boundaries of the genre of spoken word in service of the lifeblood of art: reflecting the radiant possibilities of humanity through storytelling.
I stopped by to check out the earlier performances and I was impressed by Donny’s writing and performance ability. He transforms through out the night between these characters and let’s you get a glimpse of their lives from the perspective of each while still moving the story along. It is a compelling narrative about the human experience, individual disposition and how we see things and people shapes our world view.
Tonight is the final showing of One Man Shown, and if you have the time to stop by I surely encourage you do so.
The first hitchhiker
I ever picked up
I dropped off in the wrong place.
We were both backpackers –
young, dirty, and foreign.
I was so excited to help,
I didn’t even realize my mistake
until I was too far
to turn around.
I’d left him on a busy overpass –
gray eyes and tired hands
to search for another way out.
The first time I hitchhiked
I kept my three inch knife
clutched in a fist
inside my bag the whole time.
They were the only ones who stopped:
thick set country boys,
dogs barking in the bed
of their black pick up truck.
I was suddenly so grateful
for my baggy clothes –
my unwashed hair –
their harmless questions –
but I never shook the doubt in my gut –
and I didn’t look back when I finally got out.
You could not pay me enough money
to hitchhike in America.
In America, no one looks at you
and everyone stares.
In America, fear is a gender
I am too familiar with.
In America, the street is a river
and all of the men are drowning.
All of the men need you to save them.
All of the men need you.
All of the men have been raised to believe
women are supposed to fuck them.
All of the men expect you to fuck them.
In America, she was asking for it.
In America, I walk with my keys shoved between my knuckles.
All of my retorts burn in the wildfire of my throat.
My eyes are sidewalks.
My body: a used noose.
Every voice is a corner –
a dog fight –
America says, “That poor girl in India –
only in the Third World –
how could six men rape her
and no one do anything?”
In America, I walk down the street
and a boy leans out of his car
to scream “Yo Slut! Pull down your hood!”
In America, I am with my boyfriend
when a man hisses in my ear
so that he and I have a secret.
So that he and I are he and I.
So that I will flinch when the next man
stares for too long.
In America, a man pretended to masturbate on me
during a poetry show
because I was too much talk
and not enough take.
Because my mouth was a siren –
A hive –
Because no one called him
a misogynist after the show but me.
In America, we are taught
to scream the word “FIRE”
if being assaulted because no one
will help us if we yell “RAPE.”
In America, six members
of the high school football team
can show photos of the girl
they pissed on
and no one will do anything.
Their male authority figures will condone it.
Rape is an American Past Time: A National Sport.
In America, she shouldn’t have gotten so sloppy.
In America, boys will be boys.
In America, twenty two elected Senators can oppose
The Violence Against Women Act.
In America, when you type the word “rape”
into Google the first option to pop up
is RAPE JOKES.
In America, my body belongs
to the first person who demeaned it:
the boy who broke up with me
because I wouldn’t have sex with him.
The one who taught me to find something
to burn. To mold. To shrink. To hate –
My worth stolen like a bicycle in the night –
a yellow blur in the dark.
In America, I am always searching
for another way out.
In America, I am always on fire.
I am always on fire.
I am so sorry that you will not get a chance to see.
He was lost.
No one found him.
So, he found you.
You would have felt what loving someone is in about ten years.
Mom and dad would have been concerned.
Some of you would have become teachers.
But, we say goodbye now.
He was once Adam, now Hate.
Only in adulthood we expect people to be animal.
You were just six.
Would have walked to him,
Hand to face,
The ones who could have reached out
Failed us all.
He was a young boy once without a friend
and could feel no pain.
No one saw him so
he came to see you.
I hope you looked at one another in your last moments,
and saw what love looks like.
We promise, we won’t just like a Facebook page.
We promise, we are going to go out there
and Love somebody.
We talk guns like Love is the taboo.
We promise we will give Love to someone who doesn’t have it so
they don’t come take it from other kids.
We will stop focusing on:
Does he fit the criteria?
What’s his IQ?
We know that the trigger is pulled when lack of empathy is coupled with self-hate
and the babies are gone.
We promise you Charlotte
We will live harder, we will love more
Because we are missing you 20 that did that better
than any of us.
We will honor you now.
Your fall will not be for nothing.
Your moms and dads are staying strong.
They will miss you more as each day passes.
May you find peace.
And, send some to them.
They are brave
You are braver.
Nairy Kevork is a Los Angeles native poet and artist. She has been writing poetry for ten years and plans on writing her first novel in the coming year. She also focuses on surreal paintings and psychologically themed art. Nairy is studying to become a therapist and social worker and is working towards her dream of starting a nonprofit for at risk kids.
I loathe the thought of you.
Your mother should’ve sat on you at birth.
Your name gives me mental cramps.
Your name has become a punchline for bad luck.
Your name is a bad word in the mouth’s of children.
I’ve learned 4 languages over the years
to better express how much I hate you.
porque te odio
je vous deteste
ich hasse sie
I fawkin’ haight yew
…that was australian.
I invented Haterade so my hate
never gets tired.
I wear flip flops so I can give you middle toes
with my middle fingers.
Your family treats you like jury duty.
Your friends treat you like an STD
and your parking ticket presence
has everyone greeting you with
GODDAMN IT! WHY TODAY!?
WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?!”
You are human razor burn
You are a government conspiracy
You are a walking dingleberry
A hunk of dried shit from the underpants of society
and you fuckin’ stink.
You are the opposite of Disneyland
You are the impossible celaphane wrap
they package CD’s with.
You are an American tragedy.
Time Magazine has rated you in the top 10
things that has happened in American history
ranked number 7 just above
The Great Dust Bowl of 1935
and Canadian rock band Nickelback
Fruit rots, grass dies and babies cry
within a 5 mile radius of your laugh
There is a help hotline because of you
There is a relief fund to the victims
of your acquaintance.
Facebook programmers have created
a dislike button for your profile.
The only thing keeping you standing
is the air in your head
because your spine left you for a job more stable
I fuckin’ hate you so much
I blanket myself at night with your meloncholy
and wake up knowing your misery
makes my breakfast taste better.
I shower in your tears to feel young again.
Your failures are my morning coffee
and I love this job.
I hate you so damn much
I’ve fantasized extensively about your funeral.
They bury you face down
so if you ever decide to try and walk this earth again
you dig deeper towards hell
I imagine myself farting during your moment of silence
I make sure your casket
is followed with a proper hymn; ”Another one bites the dust”
They release crows when they lower you
You have your own layer in hell
where you are consumed by darkness
because even flames find you offensive
and each day is spent watching
how much better the world is
now that you’re gone
What are the odds that something this terrible can happen?
Where were the Mayan’s or the scientists to predict this?
The alarms, sirens, gongs, bells, whistles have fallen silent
in the coming of your reign of misfortune
And to think…
in some Twilight Zone playground
you were so beautiful