Here is your Poetry Slam To Do List:
Breathe until you forget all about To Do Lists.
Breathe like there is an ocean inside your chest
sick of squeezing into the size of a swimming pool.
Breathe, expand, and let the waves crash.
Stand on this stage like the ground beneath your toes
has been waiting all its life to kiss the soles of your feet.
Stand like you are supported on the shoulders
of every poet to ever put pen to page.
From Homer to Hip Hop,
from Shakespeare to Slam,
stand like the torch of this tradition
has been passed to you.
Because it has.
Move like every limb of your body
is a member of a symphony orchestra.
The song your body sings is holy.
you are a Hallelujah Chorus,
a Hendrix solo setting guitars on fire,
the drumming of seven billion drummers
that starts a new world religion of rhythm.
Speak like you ate amplifiers for breakfast.
Speak like your middle name is Boisterous.
Speak like before you stands your middle school bully
and you just thought of the perfect come back.
Speak like your words are flint,
this audience is stone,
and the poem you spit is the spark
that sets someone’s soul on fire.
Write like every moment, every person,
every heart beating in chest,
every life pulsing in veins
is worthy of a love poem,
a gorgeous love poem,
and you are the one who must write it.
“Write about your sorrows,
your wishes, your passing thoughts,
your belief in anything beautiful.”
6. Be beautiful.
Better yet, be ugly
in all its glory.
Be every wart and scar,
every schoolyard shame
every secret bottled up
Bring your ghost towns,
your cracked vessels,
your bombed-out ruins of war.
Bring your perfectly imperfect self
in all its glory.
7. Be the truth,
the one once caught in the back of your fear,
until a poem became the key
that broke the lock of your voice box.
Now pay it forward,
knowing that a poem you write
can be the heaven to someone’s hell.
8. Do this for the poetry, not the points,
because on the day you were born,
five angels stood in wait for your first cry,
and when you did,
they gave you perfect 10’s.
It was God’s way of saying
you never, ever having anything
9. Let’s call this “This Year
of Uncompromising Joy.”
“The Year of Getting Pipe Dreams Published.”
“The Year of You Know What You Were Born to Be.
Now Go Be It.”
10. Straighten your spine,
clear your throat,
and GO IN, POET.