As The Book of Bartholomew begins to come to a close, I have felt the stories begin to write themselves. Food SLAM had very specific plot points it had to cover, which made the action and progress of the piece inevitable for me. This left me free to play with the characters and dialogue. I find this approach to be natural in the art that I make. I look to create a structural foundation that will then allow me to be free to play with the elements.
My favorite element of this story is Claire's spoken word performance. Yes, Claire stuck with spoken word even after the embarrassing and horrible experience we witnessed in Claire Speaks Out. Even the polite and kind Bartholomew cringes at the thought of another Claire performance. Writing the poem by Claire was difficult in that I had to make it not good, but also not bad. One would think that if I were to write a poem it would naturally not be good or bad, but rather common. After all, I am not a poet and make no claims to being one. Yet, I was very aware of each word I wrote, worrying that perhaps it was either too poetic or too insufficient. But I also felt, because Claire had failed so miserably before, all I had to do was not fall on my face. It is quite a freedom and a gift to know that all you have to do is not fail.
Here is an excerpt from Food SLAM! You will have to wait until tomorrow to witness Claire's reading of her poem.
Bartholomew gawked at a banner above the stage at one end of the cavernous auditorium that read “FOOD SLAM! - Save the Garden” and had images of vegetables scattered in the background. “How on earth did she pull this together in one week?”“You can ask her,” said Claire as she pulled Bartholomew by the arm toward a woman in her thirties with a scarf tied around her head holding back an avalanche of brown kinky hair.“Hey, Claire. Is this Bartholomew?” asked 'Rissa.“Yeah, Bartholomew, this is 'Rissa.”“Hey, Bartholomew. Way to go. I love that you were growing your own food. That's great!”“Thanks, 'Rissa. And thanks for pulling this... SLAM together. This is amazing! How did you pull this together in only one week?”'Rissa turned to instruct someone how to collect tickets. Turning back she smiled at Bartholomew, “This? This was easy. All you need is a big room, a great cause and space for people to speak their mind. Everybody wants to say something. Can't stop 'em.”People started to filter into the auditorium. A small group found their way toward the front seats, stopping at the sixth row.“You can sit all the way up front,” encouraged 'Rissa. “We don't bite.”The group of people moved up to the second row and sat down. A second group of people entered and found their places near, but not next to, the first group. More people entered and in fifteen minutes the auditorium, though large, was more full than not. Minutes before the show was to begin, the seats were almost full. Bartholomew's eyes became wet realizing these people were here to help save his garden.“Yo, Bartholomew,” someone yelled. Bartholomew and Claire turned to see Topping coming down the aisle. Bartholomew rushed to meet him and gave him a hug.“Where’ve you been?” pleaded Bartholomew.“I've been busy lately. Uncle Cy has had work for me and I started another job, too. Rent is a bit expensive without Charlotte there.” Topping looked Bartholomew in the eyes, “It's good to see you Bartholomew.”“You, too.”“Bartholomew,” someone else yelled. Bartholomew looked past Topping to see Charlotte coming down the aisle.Topping stepped out of the way as Bartholomew gave her a hug. Charlotte and Topping spoke a polite “hello” to each other.“C'mon, Claire and I saved some seats down front. Sit with us.”The four sat down with Bartholomew on the aisle and Claire in between Topping and Charlotte. The air was a little tense, but Bartholomew was happy to have his friends together again.