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Starting in slam, and staying there for quite a while, informs my work in two ways. One, I’ve learned not to let any topic defeat me — I don’t have the patience to be afraid of anything. The slam taught me that I am charged with the telling of my own story — and if I don’t tell it, in a way that is unflinching and sometimes terrible, I grant someone else permission to tell it. I learned to be selfish about my own rhythms, and I learned to be a witness. Not a perfect witness, but a curious one.
Second, I learned to establish presence. Mic busted? No problem. Drunks in the back roaring and puking? Not an issue. Cappucino machine blasting away in the corner? Teen babbling on cell phone in the third row? Three people in the audience when you expected 300? All challenges, not concerns. The slam teaches you to own the stage, any stage, and to make it part of the story you’ve come to tell.
Truth telling is essential to slam, yes. You’re everyone’s witness until they see the need to be witnesses themselves. And once you’ve seen the power, the way spoken words can whip through a room and leave it changed, you don’t only hear “out loud” when you write. You learn to live your whole life out loud."
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