On Saturday I featured at the CPC Summer Slam.
It was my favourite feature that I have ever done. Period.
I won’t claim it was my BEST feature. I forgot my poem one line in on the FIRST poem (I got it right back, though). There was also a bit where I realized I had been going faster than planned and stumbled around trying to find an extra poem in my notebook (before realizing I had the wrong notebook to find the poem I was looking for).
But it was still my favourite feature I have ever done.
Let’s back up a bit.
See that picture up there? The picture was made for me by Erin Dingle – super poet and design expert. It is based on a poem that I debuted at the CapSlam Finals… and has come to mean so much more to me that that.
Right after the semi-finals, and long after I had ‘nailed down’ which poems I was doing for finals, I came up with an idea… in a dream… for a new poem. It involved using two microphones and having a conversation (with myself) explaining my stance on speaking up against the problems I see around me. Very quickly I realized that the gimmick got in the way and I just started writing what I wanted to say.
It became ‘Day One’.
The instant I finished it, it felt like I was READING it rather than having written it. It was a message TO ME. This wasn’t just a poem.
It was a statement of intent. It was a philosophy. It was a WAY OF BEING.
Now, I am not trying to claim that I came up with something new, here. I am also not claiming that it is a radical departure from what I had already been doing. It was more like everything coalesced into a tangible, clear idea of a path to… enlightenment?
Overstatement, but the idea is there. This felt like my ‘coming to religion’ moment.
For those who haven’t heard it yet, let me explain ‘Day One’.
‘Day One’ is the idea that every day can be an opportunity to make the world better. Still, though, that doesn’t quite explain it, because of the vastness of the scope involved.
Instead, think of it as the opportunity to make the world better on a MANAGEABLE scale.
I, like many people, have been having a real problem with the ‘state’ of the world. Looking out and seeing the state of things – whether it be wealth-based classism, environmental degradation, rampant misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia… general selfishness… the constant conservative push in Canada (which fits into the last point as well…) War. Poverty. Hatred. Disease. Anti-science. Xenophobia.
EVERY DAY there is more to show us that humanity is trying to prove it is pretty much a horrible thing.
But there are still those who want better. There are still those who want peace. There are still those who want to help the poor, stamp out prejudice, create art or advance knowledge.
But, how? How can you do ANYTHING to change ANYTHING? One person can’t change the world.
I can’t eliminate rape culture. I can’t eliminate racism. I can’t ensure an equal distribution of wealth worldwide.
I can’t do anything.
But, it isn’t true. This is where ‘Day One’ comes in. It reminds me that I am just one person and can’t take the weight of the world on my shoulders. All I can do is all I can do.
So, every day is Day One. Every day I can do ONE THING to make the world better, if even for only one person. I can toss that can into the recycling bin instead of the trash can. I can cross that dark street, to make the woman walking ahead of me feel a little less anxious. I can speak out against the ever-present misogyny, homophobia, racism, transphobia, and whatever all kinds of hatred are being injected into our society by those who are invested in ensuring nothing changes.
And, to still make things clear, this is not always a sweetness and light movement. Sometimes making things better involves tearing things down and yelling at the top of my lungs.
This is who I am and my art is aligning itself.
Why did I enjoy my feature so much? Because I have started working on a ‘show’ that fits this philosophy together in a coherent fashion. On Saturday that just meant stringing four poems together with some connecting banter, but I hope it becomes much more than that. I will keep working on it but I hope that I will soon have a full-length show where I can really share what I mean about ‘Day One’.
By the fall I will have a new book – that is a commitment – complete with the cover designed by Erin Dingle, above.
Because this is Day One, and how did I make the world a better place today?
Could you imagine if everyone asked themselves that?