Paris has a way of swallowing time. It seems like just hours ago that I arrived here on Tuesday morning, and now it is Saturday and the final round of competition in the World Cup of Slam is on for tonight.
And what a final it will be! Roberta Estrela D’Alva from Brazil, 33 years old, six feet tall, a beautiful confident woman who shines with kindness; David Goudreault from Quebec, always smiling, sure of himself and his poetry; Chris Tse from Canada, 21, self-aware and cool in an engaging, friendly way; and Younes Mernissi from Belgium, possibly the strongest poet among us, who puts together words in the way great artists paint pictures — you see what he wants you to see. Who will win? Who will hold their nerve and capture the fire for three rounds? It will be very, very close. But the quiet consensus among the rest of us is that Roberta will be difficult to beat. She is an Amazon warrior with a heart of sunshine.
But truth is, all 16 poets in this competition deserve to be here. 64 poems have now been performed in front of eager and enthusiastic audiences, and not one has been bad. The youngest person in the competition, 20-year old Mathias Bungaard, is the only poet to receive a perfect score of ten twice in the same round. The oldest, 63-year old David Morgan from England, an unreconstructed anarchist from the Old School, spins stories out of the ether and leaves people breathless. The talent is so rich, and the people are so nice — we have become a community.
Daan Doesborgh from Holland is a young hippie with shoulder length hair and an amazing sense of humor. He is here with his father — also a hippie — who drove to the competition with his girlfriend in an old German Army Mercedes Benz Ambulance which they have converted into a Rolling Love Bus. Gabrielle Tuloup from Paris writes poems about the touch of lovers, but has no time for a boyfriend. Arthur Matveev from Russia smiles at everyone and carries a shoulder bag that produces endless cans of lager. We all sat together last evening until well past midnight, drinking beer and wine and laughing. Everyone is exchanging e-mail addresses, promising to stay in touch. There is something wonderful happening here, something we are all aware of but can’t quite name.
And tonight I expect the Slammers to bring the stars down from the endless night sky, for them to steal the lights from the Eiffel Tower. Because this is the Coupe du Monde de Slam, and this is the real deal.
Tell DorkySon that his father will be home tomorrow. Tell him I have stories to share about beautiful people who know magic words. Tell him that angels and wizards really do exist. I know, because I have seen them.
Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash