Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Poetry Contest Skit

Though most readers agreed with me and admitted they don’t like poetry; a few of you commented that I should be more open to it. Below is a piece that I wrote and was going to submit to Simple Salmon, but it seems that the River Theater no longer does Simple Salmon, so I will share the skit with all of you here. It is about a County Wide Poetry Competition:

A spot light comes up on two color commentators who are seated at a table stage right. They each have a microphone and head phones.

Male announcer (BOB):

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to 25th annual Clatsop County Poetry Competition. I am Bob Kilmer and I am here with the 2005 poetry champion from Arch Cape, Roberta Elliot.

Female announcer (Roberta):
Hello Bob, it’s nice to be here.

Four poets stand quietly on stage as the lights come up. Each poet holds a sign of the town they represent, Cannon Beach, Seaside, Warrenton, Astorua.

Well Roberta, I bet the four poets before us are getting themselves psyched up for some tough competition tonight.

A feeling I remember well, Bob. These poetry champions have clawed their way to the top having survived years of training and the first two elimination rounds earlier this year. Knappa, Arch Cape and Gearhart were eliminated in early January competition. Jewel, Elsie and West Port were eliminated in the late February competition.

And lets not forget the disgraceful disqualification of Tolovanna Park and Brownsmead this year after they were accused of using poems from the internet.

Yes Bob, that was a real black eye for competitive poetry. Hopefully our competitors here tonight can remove some of the tarnish from these competitions.


It’s too bad because the poet from Brownsmead had that wonderful poem, “My pets are missing, has Vicki returned?” It was world class poetry.
We are now watching as the poets warm up for the competition.

The four poets contort their faces and flex their tongues as though they were warming up and stretching for some strange sporting event. Some start making noises like they are working their vocal chords.

While the poets warm up I would like to share the rules of this competition with our audience. All poems recited can only consist of three lines. Haiku is acceptable. This is No-Contact poetry meaning that the poets must keep their hands to themselves at all times. They are not allowed to use props or gestures other than facial gestures.

A bell rings as though it were a boxing match.

There is the starting bell. The poets will read in alphabetical order according to the town they represent. The judges will score the poems when the first round is finished. Astoria is first up.

Let the games begin.

There is a momentary hush as the first competitor approaches the microphone. Each poet reads the title, pauses and reads their poem.

ASTORIA steps to the mic:

The sun has recently risen
The “Play Here” sign is awakened
Good news, the bars have reopened

CANNON BEACH steps to the mic:

The birds can be heard
The locals have come out
Snow and ice on Highway 26, again

SEASIDE steps to the mic:

The bus station now vacant
Under the awning where passengers wait
Ten second-hand cigarettes collected today

Warrenton steps to the mic:

Fifty Dollars in my pocket
I smell like fish
Lon Mabon is coming to town

This is a strong first round. All poems address local conditions where these poets live, eat, sleep and write.

Roberta, do you have any predictions before the judges render their scores?

Well I think that the daily events in Astoria and Seaside may be mundane to the judges, however Cannon Beach and Warrenton are describing special events that are dear to their residents. Warrenton may take this round.

The scores are in from the judges. We have 7.9 for Astoria, 8.9 for Cannon Beach, 8.0 for Seaside and 9.3 for Warrenton. You called it pretty well Roberta. Warrenton is in the lead.


It’s the years of experience, Bob. I see the poets are collecting themselves and preparing for the second round.

Astoria steps to the mic:

A morning colder than icewater
Tears nearly freeze on the supporters’ cheeks
No new campus this year.

Cannon Beach steps to the mic:

A surfboard in pieces
A large shark swims close
I am so screwed

Seaside steps to the mic:

The stones in the cove
Rest still on the shore
As my car is on blocks, tireless

Warrenton steps to the mic:

Factory built tract housing
The cement floor cools my feet
Every where I walk

This round seems to have less strength than the first round, but if it were my vote I’d place it on Cannon Beach. Their poem is much more desperate that the others.

I agree, Bob, but the pure emotion in the piece by Astoria will be a contender.

Her come the scores Astoria 9.4, Cannon Beach 9.5, Seaside 8.6 and Warrenton 8.2. Astoria makes a strong comeback but can’t compete with the pure simplicity of Cannon Beach tonight.

Bob, you can see the contestants are now breaking into a sweat. I can’t tell you how physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting these events can be. Contestants have been known to pass out during these competitions. Astoria is stepping back up to the mic. Let’s see what this round delivers.

Astoria steps to the mic:

Though the surface is smooth
The ebb is strong
Which barge will hit the bridge today?

Cannon Beach steps to the mic:

A mere speck on the cliff face
As evening approaches
Who will phone the Coast Guard?

Seaside steps to the mic:

A flash of red and blue
Evidence is gathered
The bodies have been found

Warrenton steps to the mic:

The sand is high and level
I look below to the life
In the drainage ditch

Man and nature, man verses nature. What wonderful poetry we are seeing here tonight.

It is bringing tears to my eyes, Bob. I’d like to take them all out for a drink, or at least to see a good therapist.

The pure desperation of the poem from Cannon Beach has me on the edge of my seat.
The scores are: Astoria 7.9, Cannon Beach 9.7, Seaside 8.8 and Warrenton 7.4. It looks like the judges didn’t like Warrentons submission, and to thing they have a 9.3 with a previous poem.
It looks like Canon Beach is holding on to the lead at this point.


Yes they are, Bob, and Astoria is in last place with an average of 8.4. However there are two rounds left and anything can happen.

Astoria steps to the mic:

He comes out of the car
A light in his eyes
He can touch his finger on his nose, this time

Cannon Beach steps to the mic:

Glass floats wash ashore
With the flotsam and jetsam
The wind has removed my roof

Seaside steps to the mic:

A gathering to eat
A feast at the beach
The smell of tallow kisses the air

Warrenton steps to the mic:

Fish fish fish fish
Boats boats boats boats
Strip Malls and Big Box Stores

I see Astoria and Warrenton are getting bitchy. Cannon Beach is in yet another disaster. Seaside on the other hand is becoming playful. The judges may turn on the participants in this round.

I agree, it is a good idea to diversify your presentations in competitions such as this. Astoria 7.7, Cannon Beach 7.8, Seaside 9.8 and Warrenton 7.5. Wow! Warrenton got spanked by the judges.

It happens, but now we have the final round. Most competitors save their best for last.

Astoria steps to the mic:

The weeds and lawn grow wild
Shops are boarded up
The Flavel’s are in Tewskberry

Cannon Beach steps to the mic:

A bundle of alder
Burned warmly in the stove
My vacation rental has been turned to ash

Seaside steps to the mic:

The Autumn is brown and yellow
Nature is red in tooth and claw
Did you get your elk?

Warrenton steps to the mic:

So many churches
I attend them all
To smite the Democrats.

Oh my! What a strong finish for each poet! It’s anyone’s guess what the judges will decide with this final round.

Here are the scores: Astoria 9.9, Cannon Beach 8.9, Seaside 10.0 and Warrenton 9.5.

A 10.0 for Seaside. That is unheard of in most poetry competitions.

Yes but it may have been the definitive Seaside poem, and it may have been the definitive Clatsop County poem.


If they could only have thrown in a pair of muck boots I would have been brought to tears.

The final tally is in making Seaside the champion with an average of 9.04, second place goes to Cannon Beach with an average of 8.96. Astoria is third with 8.56 and the reserve champion is Warrenton with 8.38. How do you feel about these scores Roberta?

I never want to second-guess the judges in a poetry contest, they have a so many factors they use to judge these competitions. Though, if I were a judge in this competition, my background and philosophy would have me rating the pain of poverty higher than the pain of the middle class. If you compare Astoria to Cannon Beach for instance, Astoria had the pain of waiting for the bars to open, the failure of a bond measure, flotsam in the river, not driving under the influence and abandoned properties. Cannon Beach had rock climbing, surfing, ice storms with solitude, windstorms and cozy fires. Each town has their own disasters, but I tend to feel more sorry for the Astorian disasters.


Class warfare comes in all forms, Roberta, even poetry. I’m going to try to catch the champion from Seaside as the poets exit the stage.
Might I have a word? Might I have a word?
Now you are the Clatsop County Poetry Champion, what are you planning to do?

Seaside Champion:
I think a road trip is in order. I’m sure I’ll be able to get to Newport and have a good time with the prize money.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this competition has no prize money.

Seaside Champion:
No prize money? So what do I get for being the champion?

Well, you get to be the Clatsop County Poetry champion for the next year, and you get to have your poems published in a book that no one will buy except for the winning poets of the other counties who have their stuff in there as well. It’s only $70 per copy. You can buy several copies and give them away as gifts.

Seaside Champion:

You mean it cost me $100 to compete and another $70 to get a book with a few of my poems in it? This is a bigger rip off than the shipping costs on E-Bay.

Roberta: begins speaking over the ranting Seaside Champion
Well it’s time to end our broadcast of this years Clatsop County poetry contest. Thank you and good night!

Seaside Champion:
Rants as he/she is escorted forcibly off stage
How dare you? You rat bastards. I will slander all of you in verse. You rat bastards!!!!!! Rat Bastards!!!!!


Anonymous Auntie L said...

You, sir, are a rat bastard and a genius. Made me spit coffee twice (a rare happening in these parts).

Can't believe no one wanted to use this. !! Bring back Simple Salmon just for this.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

You are so good AND so bad re: this whole poetry thing. Not sure which. I guess a mixture - plus damned funny.
AS much as you profess to dislike poetry, all those three liners must have taken you a fair bit of time and creative thought. Some of them - not so bad...

7:26 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Auntie L, I never submitted it so I don't know if it would have been wanted or not.

Beth, there was a lot of inside local humor there, I'm glad you enjoyed it in spite of that. I really posted this piece so that people would know that I have spent time swimming in the poetry pool, and not just peeing in it.

I'll say I'm sorry to all those with a short arrention span who are used to my short articles.

8:40 AM  
Blogger OC Mama said...

That was hilarious! I needed a good laugh this morning. :-) Thanks.

8:41 AM  
Blogger scott said...

Well spoofed. I'd pay to see this playlet.

My wife and I used to have Bad Poetry salons, and they were so much fun. Everyone brought a bad poem of their own, or one they found, and read it. Prizes were awarded. Time to start this again I think.

But concerning good poetry, Florence Sage has worked very hard on the Fisher Poets gathering, so lets all go support her and the Fisher Poet event(s). It's gained national recognition and is not to be mocked. (not that you were.)

8:59 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

OC, did it make you home sick?

Scott, I was most certainly mocking it! I thought I made that perfectly clear the other day by saying the fisher poets should fuel up their boats and run them westward until the fuel runs out. I wasn't joking.

9:09 AM  
Blogger OC Mama said...

Yeah, just a little homesick. I had my husband read it and the poetry wasn't nearly as funny to him. I guess you had to be there. :-)

1:45 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

THIS was genius! Subtle sarcasm at its best!

4:20 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

OCM, you're husband is right, poetry sucks. If you don't know who or what is being jabbed it is just plain old sucky poetry.

Mo3 ; )

4:35 PM  

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