It’s been quiet.

Since posting my last piece “Clock watching” you may be forgiven for thinking I’d dropped off the face of the planet.

That said, I was in preparation for my 3rd assault on the poetry slam at the Audlem Music and arts festival which took place on May 21st. Like a boxer going to training camp before a fight, I too go into a period of hibernation. In this period where the focus is solely on the pieces that I would use for my rounds, the biggest battle was between those crafted with a strong metaphoric presence, and simpler content sprinkled with poetic elements. In the end I delivered 3 rounds of poetry that showcased my versatility as a writer and performer.

The internal battle raged despite choosing the 3 pieces early on, the temptation to chop and change my poems was hard to resist. At one point I had 5 poems with a further two as back up if nerves caused me to forget one. For once I stuck to the plan!

Although I found myself in a constant cycle of editing 2014’s “Flagged Offside”, a poem written for week 11 of the 52 week challenge, it was the highest scoring poem of the first round. In honesty, I thought it was my least creative piece of the 3 and might see me scrape through.  Maybe it was the perfectly timed action of ripping open my shirt to reveal a Manchester United jersey that swung it in my favour.

My 2nd round performance was of Clock Watching, a poem that hasn’t seen an open mic yet one that took me through as best runner – up. The best poem of that round belonged to a poet called Nick Lovell with his tightly written war tale. As classic spoken word rhyme patterns go – he had that round in his grasp. Nick eventually finished 3rd.

If you’ve seen me perform live then typically my poem Dear Caramel will make an appearance. This was left for the final round as I decided to trust my newer work and then bring it home with that one. Yet like Usain Bolt pulling up with a muscle injury with 5 metres to go, I knew I’d lost it when I stumbled at penultimate line.. I’d wanted to win so badly, though with this only being my 4th slam, I was encouraged by many that  being 2nd is an achievement that I should be proud of.

Legendary Liverpool Football club manager Bill Shankly talked of first being first and 2nd being nowhere. That is precisely how I felt for a few days after.. On reflection, losing by half a point, to “Spoz” a former poet laureate that I’ve known since 2004 when I was new to spoken word, is a “good” loss. He was flawless and that has to be applauded.

A slam victory remains on my poetic bucket list amongst other things. For now, the ink has been allowed to drip again and I’m hoping it doesn’t stop this year.

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