Just a little story for you. I hope you enjoy it!
I leafed through my rather impressive piles of judges ballots. Doing three events in speech was fun, but it meant I got approximately a novel’s worth of judges comments on the problems with my speeches. As I was reading through my poetry ballots, I came across one that was rather bare. It had my topic, “First Impressions” written on the line and my time written in at 7:28 as well as check marks next to the boxes of questions and requirements along the left side of the paper. The judge had ranked me first, then scribbled that out and re-circled second. He’d given me a 47 on my score, but there was a dotted line encircling the 50. Almost by accident, I noticed that he had drawn a little arrow beside the 50 pointing to the back of the paper. I flipped it over with a little gasp. He’d written the words:
Thank you so much for speaking today. I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed your poetry. I wanted to rank you first because your program stirred so much thought and emotion in me, but unfortunately the person I ranked first better fit the conditions on the ballot. I’d like to put it out there that I think the ballot doesn’t really capture the spirit of poetry. It isn’t about the content and your performance; poetry is about trying to find a way to convey something that is beyond language to another human being. You seem to understand that, because your poetry is so inspiring. I tend to think in pictures, so this is the only way to describe to you what your poetry said to me.
Underneath, he’d drawn a beautiful picture. It was of a park bench with a young woman wearing a flowery sundress perched on one end. She wore a big floppy hat that shadowed her eyes, but her short, choppy hair could be seen peeking out beneath it. On her sleeve, there was a patch in the shape of a heart, but it looked rather worn. All across the bench sat transparent people. It was impossible to tell what gender these people were, or what they looked like other than that they were human silhouettes.
On the other end of the bench sat a young man. He was wearing a suit and tie and desperately clutching a rose. It was extremely beautiful except for the large thorn just above the young man’s hand. He was glancing toward the girl in the sundress and seemed oblivious to the thorn so close to his hand. His face looked as though he had been weary and hopeless for a long time and had finally found a glimmer of sunshine.
Above both the man’s and the woman’s heads were swirls of images. A little songbird on a grand piano and a bent umbrella that looked like a piece of origami leaning on a bleak light pole were the prominent images above the woman’s head, along with smaller things such as a strawberry patch and a coffee mug. The man had a pair of baby’s shoes and a mansion made of playing cards as well as a puppy and a girl with curly hair.
Both of the clouds of images seemed to be reaching toward each other and intermingling. There was a twisting oak tree above the young man whose boughs reached toward the airborne child’s swing that flew toward it above the girl’s head.
It was a work of art.
The nameless judge with the code J5 had titled his masterpiece “A First Impression” and signed it only with a little star in the bottom corner.