How a poetry slam works
Caferati announces it's holding a poetry slam. You immediately order a box of pencils and a sheaf of paper. You spend a few days in the nervous and harried chewing of pencil ends, waiting for 'inspiration' to strike you. It doesn't. So you write something anyway, hoping it'll pass off as 'poetry'. You mail it to the editors.
You wait for a few more days, even more nervous. You get a mail from the editor. You open it nervously. You've been selected. Nervousness gives way to euphoria - very briefly - before reasserting itself. You've got to compose a few more 'poems' on the theme (if there is a theme) before slam day.
Slam day arrives. You wake up all in a sweat. By then your family members are sick of you reciting your own 'poetry' to yourself, with all kinds of faked-up 'emotions'. Your colleagues are sick of you, your friends are sick of you.
You reach the slam venue, by now a complete bundle of nerves. You find a secluded spot to rehearse your 'poems', and your well-wishing friends who tagged along for 'moral support', give you last-minute (un)helpful suggestions.
You're called up to the dais where you meet your competitors. Your turn is called out. You take your sheaf of papers and walk to the podium. It's a wonder you haven't exhibited any embarassingly obvious signs of nervousness yet. You pull the mike closer to your mouth and start 'performing'. The 'emotions' come out in a tumble, not the way you practised them. You finish the 'poem' and take your seat. There's applause. You wish it were more deafening than it was, but something is better than nothing, right?
The others finish. You wait for the result - will you make it to the next round? You make it, but not before you've paid the cost in terms of a bitten-off fingernail. The whole ritual now repeats, with mounting losses of fingernails. You're swinging wildly - what matters more, 'poetry' or 'performance'? The other competitors. Some of them have written what can certainly be called 'poems'. Other can certainly 'perform'. Where do you stand among them?
You scrape through each round till the final round. A prize is assured. You 'perform' your last 'poem'. It's over, as are the fingernails. You gigngerly take the envelope from the judge and pose politely for the photograph. Your friends are assembling to gherao you. You wonder why.
And then you realise you have a thousand bucks in hand.
That's a poetry slam for you.