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Intern Marc finds his poetry slam judge comfort zone.

Last spring I was invited to be a judge of what I would later learn was a poetry contest. Now, I have to admit that I’m not a poetry enthusiast by any means. It’s not that I don’t appreciate poetry, it’s just that I’m the last person in the world to tell what really makes a good poem or not. So, when introduced to this opportunity, I obviously panicked. I didn’t want to be one of those judges (like in most reality t.v.) who clearly doesn’t know what they are doing and makes the most absurd and unorthodox decisions that wind up shifting the entire contest. Before the contest got under way, I sat in the back of the stands (where the judges were located) and began googling “how to judge a poem” on my MyTouch. Luckily for me the judging pamphlets weren’t nearly as complex as the ones displayed online.

But as anxious and utterly lost I was in the beginning, I quickly found my comfort zone as the actual readings began. The energy and raw emotion the artists showed drew me in immediately. The contest (much to my surprise) became more like a performance rather than simply a bunch of students reading poems. It really felt as if they were sharing a piece of themselves with the audience which made me realize that we, as judges, or at least myself, were not just picking the poem, but judging the experience as a whole. All in all, I’d have to say I really enjoyed myself. I suggest to anyone who loves poems – but especially to those who don’t – attend at least one poetry slam. Who knows, maybe you’ll have found a new found respect for them. I know I have, and maybe I’ll even throw my hat in the race one year…well, let’s not get too crazy.

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