Day one:
Today was registration day for NPS.
We spent the morning as a team running through our pieces and looking over our coaches pieces. Originally Ben was not meant to be performing at NPS, as our coach, his role is more off stage, however with the shocking news of wani not being able to make it, Ben has stepped in. We need a minimum of four people in the team to make us eligible to compete.
As you can imagine, to have such a shift happen in the final days before the competition has been a bit of a blow to our visions and team but the last few days have provided some great bonding for us.

In the afternoon, we headed into the Sheridan Hotel where the NPS head quarters are based. The feeling of walking into the lobby and seeing small clusters of poets scattered around was quite incredible; a deep, excited buzzing was rising in me.

In truth, I have been petrified about this element of NPS. The community vs the competition. Before we left we had a meeting with an NPS coach from the states and she made a point of saying how a lot of the teams were not there to make friends, but to win. She then stated, “You’ll know which teams aren’t there to make friends” … insert a deep and petrified *gulp* here from me.
My childhood trauma mind instantly painted images of me being bullied, picked on and ostracized. The anxiety I endured in the following weeks was pretty immense, even though I knew It was my own story, the fear was real. It wasn’t the competition aspect which scared me, it was the fear of being a social outcast, of being attacked or picked on of down right bullied… just for being myself. It has been a long time since these thoughts had overtaken me in such an immense way and it was confronting to look at.

However, the truth is, we walked in to find smiles, hugs, high fives and genuinely excited responses. It seems us being all the way from Australia is a pretty big deal, pretty much every other team is from North America. We did our registration, collected our goodies bags and after a lunch indulgement at Hard Rock Cafe headed off to the very first slam event of the festival; The Last Chance Slam.

The last chance slam is basically for any poets who didn’t make it into a team, to have one last chance. The top four winning poets from the 3 round slam then go on to the Last Chance Team and get to compete in the Nationals. Pretty exciting! 

The poets we saw ranged from pretty good to awesome and the stories told were engaging and diverse. However, out of all of it, the thing which stood out to me the most was the audience. The Whooping and Hollering, the very vocal encouragement and the dedication to supporting each of the poets was beautiful to see. Afterward, once again, it was a room full of happy and friendly faces, slaps on the back, congratulatory hugs and general introduction banter.

Our evening finished with a quick cypher out the front of the venue, a drink and back to the Poet Pad where we ran over a few more pieces before bed.

Tomorrow the first round bouts begin, the competition kicks off, and the fun begins.
Over all, a great day and I’ve already met some pretty inspiring and gorgeous people.