Julia Statzer came in second place at the 4th Annual University of Notre Dame Wham! Bam! Poetry Slam! on April 5th, 2016. She was kind enough to participate in my Meet the Writer series to talk about her experiences as a poet. Poets must go three rounds; you can watch Julia here and here. I’m not sure where the 3rd video is!
Some information: A poetry slam is a competitive event in which individual poets perform their work and are judged by random members of the audience. The rules for the competition are simple. Poems can be on any subject and in any style but must be original creations of the performers. Each poem must take less than three minutes to perform, and these performances may not use props, costumes, musical accompaniment, or memorization aids.
Julia Statzer grew up in Indiana and then moved to Michigan to attend trade school where she got her welding certifications. She then went off to Portland for a woodworking apprenticeship that she left to pursue being a travelling contract artist. Her home base is in South Bend, IN where many friends, family, and thus her heart, is. Right now she is working at living joyfully and in the moment.
What is your history as a poet?
I suppose I started writing what I would consider actual poems around the age of nine. I remember at that time the first awareness of impermanence and death were at the forefront, and I imagine writing was my way of creating order amidst all the impressions. I’m not sure that at that point I set out to write poetry, it just started coming out that way.
Throughout my early teenage years I was an avid open-mic attendee and also was fortunate enough to have a few key people in my life who really encouraged growth and expression through written word. For me at that time I think I HAD to write and was never without a notebook.
I am actually much more likely to recite to a room full of people than for an individual, and more often than not it is because I am looking to express something to them.
I suppose a large shift in my writing occurred when I stopped writing so much for my own outlet and more for that which I seek to communicate to others. This solves the difficulty most writers at some point reach during which they worry that everything that can be has already been said. This way it is always relevant in the moment as a tool for communication.
You seemed a bit nervous when you recited your first poem, but you never wavered in your recitation. How did you prepare for the poetry slam?
I don’t specifically practice for slams, but I do recite my poems to myself. Also, I tend to do this at random times and in varying circumstance so that it becomes natural to deliver despite distraction.
Are there any experiences you’ve had that really define what your poems are about?
I would say that many of my experiences have led themselves to what I write, although not in a specific sense. Most often a poem is a sort of depiction of some journey I have made internally or externally. Looking to sum up an experience with enough component parts to inspire an imagining of the whole. Like a map in which just enough details are presented to make the landscape recognizable and, hopefully, easier to navigate.
Do you like to read certain poets?
Many of my biggest inspirations in writing have actually been from individuals who I’ve seen perform at slams or open mics or people whom I have known/met along the way. I also have read and enjoyed a variety of the more traditional poets. It is just in my own taste to experience something in person, from the writers themselves, this way I get to see in what way they feel their words. I am particularly drawn to inventive word play, ideas wrapped within other, slightly transparent, ideas.
Do you have any plans for future poetry performances?
Certainly there will be other performances. More often than not if I hear of a spoken word event I will participate. It is something I have always been drawn to, and whether it is sharing what I have created or listening to others speak, it is important to me to support such endeavors. Especially as we exist in a society where interaction can be so easily glossed over or mechanized. It is vital to have spaces in which we can share the depths of ourselves, unearth those rarely seen but widely felt currents of experience.
What was going through your mind when the MC announced that you won second place at the Wham! Bam! Poetry Slam?
I have no idea what was on my mind at the announcement of winning 2nd place. The closest I can pinpoint is that it may have been a thought to the other talented poets who performed. It is definitely an honor to have placed among them and beautiful to hear so many well-crafted word forms in one place.
Don’t forget that it’s National Poetry Month! I’d like to see more #BookSpinePoetry on Facebook and Twitter! I’ll be sharing a book spine poem every day on my social media. Thanks to Consumed by Ink, 746 Books, and Fiction Fan for sharing their work and introducing me to book spine poetry!