My First Poetry Slam

My first poetry slam was at a local arts venue with about 40-60 people. I went with a friend just to watch, but we were urged to put our names in to read our own poetry. I was not a poet, but part of me wanted to be, so I signed up not knowing what I would say. I was very nervous, but by the time we had taken our seats, I knew exactly what poem I would go with. It was short and easy to remember, and I felt it told a lot about me. Once I had committed to it, there was no going back. No matter how nervous I felt.

The lights went out except for the spotlight on the stage. The first poem was bland and the second was light-hearted. Not so intimidating, though at the time I was definitely still not beyond stage fright (I’ve stood on many stages visibly shaking). The next guy played a funny song about how hipster his ex was on his guitar. I hoped I could, some day, be that good. I asked them to push my name a little lower on the list to work up some courage. But then the mood shifted; the poets and entire atmosphere of the room became very dark and heavy. This was a serious problem for me. I asked to be pushed down some more so the air could clear a bit.

The poems and spoken words were horrifying. Depression, suicide, racism, sexism, death, rape, anger and everything awful were now the themes of every single one. What started as passionate poetry intensified with each successive performer until eventually they were so taken by the spirit of it all that they were yelling and crying. Oh my God. How am I going to go up there now? How will my amateur poem be received by a crowd so moved? I couldn’t get a break, the longer I waited, the worse it got. I didn’t want to be that last guy, but it was getting climactically intense. Meanwhile, the organizers were really pressuring me to go. Eventually I was going to have to say my piece, but I was terrified. I didn’t know how they would take what I had to say. I had to face the fact that the mood might not get easier. So after a particularly moving spoken word-I went up.

I tried going slow, but in reality I’m told I didn’t. I got to the mic and took a deep breath in-and then out. But then I had no breath to speak with and breathed in extra deep. It was a dramatic and awkward delay. I held my breath and looked at all the enraptured spectators, waiting for the next powerful piece of emotion and imagery to grab their souls. After a long pause, I went for it, gripping the mic as tightly as I could to stabilize myself.

“Roses are red, violets are red, your garden’s on fire”

The nearly dead silence was barely brought back to life with a couple of chuckles. I ran off the stage.

Starbucks Discrimination

Dear Bloggary,

A few years ago, I got a great opportunity at a time when I was really turning my life around at 20 years old. It was a new job, where I was given an opportunity to prove myself by the greatest manager who ever lived-Erin. She told me not to steal anything or do anything crazy, to which I agreed, and taught me everything about how to do my job well. I became an excellent employee with job skills and work ethic that would take me to better places in the future. Eventually, even after she left, I made my way up to basically Assistant Manager, and after almost a year and a half, left on my own, remaining friends with Erin and friendly with a couple of the other GM’s I worked under during that time. I had done a very good job-and had witnesses.

More than three years later, I decided I wanted a temporary job during the holiday season at the mall, a short walk from home. I found out Teavana was hiring, and as I had enjoyed working there and loved the product, I applied. I went in and had a brief discussion with the very friendly manager, who asked if my previous managers would vouch for me. “Yes, definitely.” “Okay great, fill out an application online.”  I went home, did so, and about an hour later, she called me.

The gist of the conversation was “You’re hired! When can you start?” I didn’t even have to interview. It was the easiest job acquisition ever. We had a nice, pleasant, excited conversation, and at the end she told me that all we needed next was for me to fill out the form for a background check. Well, I explained, “I can’t pass a background check.” I explained that as a teenager I had gotten myself into drugs and trouble, but had long since turned things around and had a great resume and extensive references to prove it. She seemed understanding and accepting-it had been 6 ½ years, I’d worked there since, and she had just gotten “a rave review” from a previous manager whom she knew personally. We had a longer discussion,  during which she convinced me she would do her best. But she told me that Teavana was a very different place than when I had worked there-in the time I was gone, they’d been acquired by Starbucks and she didn’t know if that would be okay anymore. She told me she’d get back to me in two days after talking to her boss.

I was left in suspense. During that time, I did a little research and found other stories even less fair than mine such as this one http://starbucksunion.org/news/starbucks-barista-discriminated-against-and-fired-prior. Due to this research, I was worried, despite everyone I knew reassuring me it couldn’t possibly be a problem.

When she called me back, it turned out there was nothing she could do. And yes, I believe she tried and am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt based on the conversation we had.

I’m pretty upset, and it’s a loss to myself, the manager and the company. It didn’t make sense for them to not hire me back on this basis, having already worked there before and with an even greater passage of time on my side. This was thoughtless discrimination when an exception should have been made.

Who I am and why I’m here

Hi,

I’m Wil. I used to do drugs, now I drink tea. I involve myself with social justice issues and non-profit work. I love adventures and trying new things. Also seeking enlightenment.

I am here to express myself as an attempt at contributing to human thought and my own enrichment.

I am publishing online, rather than just keeping a journal because a journal won’t affect much by itself. Online, I can hopefully enrich others’ lives, and allow others to give me perspective.

I would like to write about things from my own life that could be helpful to others, and I would love to connect with people who work, or would like to work toward general personal and world betterment. I really hope this blog and the people I may meet through it can have some positive effect on the state of the world.

Thanks,

Wil