When we realized last year that National Poetry Month always begins on April Fool’s Day, we thought it was an opportunity to have a little fun. You know: Kick out the jams, revel in the absurd a bit. Remind ourselves that we can still have fun with this business of poetry and still use it to speak to serious matters and help assuage serious wounds. We got into this job because we love language, and all the things that can be done with it.
So — in the interests of silliness — we launched Fantasy Poetry Slam, wherein we invited writers ranging from complete novices to highly lauded pros — to write a poem from the point of view of the denizen of a fantasy realm they were randomly assigned, then create a video for that poem and post it to YouTube. They had a week to do that, and the winners were chosen by the amount of “likes” the video garnered. We didn’t mean for this to become a tradition, but here we are at the end of the 2nd annual competition, and this was so much fun we’ll likely do it again next year. That being said, here are the top three teams:
First Place: Team Transylvania
The two-person team of Los Angeles-area writers took the world of the most famous vampire of all time and ran with it, offering a pair of videos that couldn’t be more different for a grand total of 43 points.
First up Kathy Silvey took an unusual tack, and instead of performing the poem, embedded it in the captions. Make sure you have the captions turned on when you watch. The effect is staggering.
Her teammate, Rick Lupert, took a completely different approach, and it doesn’t surprise us that this was the highest-scoring video in the game.
Second Place: Team Vulcan
We’d like to note that Boston-area poet Kaleigh O’Keefe came in second place with a whopping 28 points even though her teammate was knocked out of commission by a cold! Also, it’s a sonnet from the perspective of Captain James Tiberius Kirk’s deathbed. How badass is that?
Third Place: Team Night Vale
The bronze medal goes to a pair of writers who had perhaps the biggest challenge: The setting of the popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast. While it’s got a cult following, it was nowhere near as famous as the other fantasy worlds, giving it a serious handicap which the team overcame to score a collective 24 points!
First up, New England’s Matthew Hopewell digs into the podcast’s odd blend of hilarity and paranoia:
Meanwhile, New Mexico’s Rich Boucher delved into the more … spiritual side of praising the glow cloud:
And there we have it! Congratulations to all of our players for a job well done. You can find the rest of the videos by searching for the hashtag #FantasyPoetrySlam on YouTube, or the hashtags #TeamWakanda, #TeamVulcan, #TeamAnkhMorpork, #TeamNightVale, #TeamTransylvania and #TeamTatooine.