‘Fickle as the wind and twice as harsh’

Poetry Slam celebrates 35th event

Steele Giles, Staff Writer

It’s the time of year when everybody with a half-written song in their heart and a functional pen in their hand decides it’s time for people to hear them read it aloud.

Rather, their workshop teacher decides and they have to blow $5 on a night out.

The 35th poetry slam is upon us, and with it comes the tide of grizzled veterans and fresh-faced newcomers it invites. It will take place in the back room of the Max on March 3. Registration starts at 6 p.m. and the event starts at 7 p.m. Bring four poems and $5 to participate, or yourself and a willingness to throw elbows to spectate.

For the vets, I offer no advice. You fear naught but the coming tides of age and infamy.

For the newcomers, fear not. Slammers and audience members alike are some of the friendliest people you will ever encounter–many of the regular attendees are downright sweethearts. So show up with a bad poem.

Either way, it takes a quite a bit to get booed off the stage and, in my four years of experience, it hasn’t happened yet.

In terms of actual strategy, I’d first like to point out that it is largely useless.

The crowd and judges can be fickle as the wind and twice as harsh given cause. Most will recommend the approach of leading with your strongest work—you’ve got to distinguish yourself from the start in order to clear the frequently saturated first round. In round two, you can afford to run a weaker piece. Should you make it to round three, reload your proverbial elephant gun, that’s your moment of truth. An impressive showing to the judges can earn you fabulous prizes.

Speaking of judges, the panel is made up of poets invited into town for the Plains Writers Series. This year’s guests are Steve Langan, Todd Robinson and Laura Madeline Wiseman.

Robinson, a native Nebraskan, teaches at Creighton University and the writing workshop at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He published a book, “Note at Heart Rock,” in 2011 and has been published in a number of magazines and journals before and since then, including “Margie,” “Mankato Poetry Review” and “Potomac Review.” His poetry has been described as glacial, as a blending of pop culture and classical ideas, as a study in contrasts.

Laura Madeline Wiseman brings with her a background in womens’ studies and a huge portfolio to draw from. In the past year alone she has published “Wake,” a poetic examination of death that came out in 2015, and “An Apparently Impossible Adventure,” a dissection of roles in the modern world set to the backdrop of ambiguously real faeries and very real relationship issues.

Our third guest is Steve Langan, an adopted Nebraskan and similarly prolific writer. His most recently published was released in 2015 with the title “What it Looks Like, How it Flies,” and he has been published in a great many magazines and journals. His work examines our interior life through the lens of strange but apt language.

The Plains Writers Series takes place on the second floor of the Humanities building. Robinson and Wiseman will share their work at 1 p.m., while Langan will follow up at 2 p.m. Sigma Tau Delta will be selling their usual mélange of delicious treats and the authors’ books will be available for the sufficiently inspired or affluent.