Contestants push boundaries at Bad Feminist Poetry Contest

The fifth annual Bad Feminist Poetry Contest, held April 2 in the Greenleaf, managed to shock, amuse, frighten, and impress those in attendance, of which there were quite a few. By 7:30 p.m., the coffee cooperative was packed with feminists male and female.

Judges Traci Connor, Liz Ermis, and Sonya Mitchell-Duffy were introduced by Associate Professor of Religion Eric Mortensen, who had a few words of advice for contestants.

“Some of (the poetry) is just over-the-top, and that’s good,” he said. “People who write poetry that’s really good get low scores.”

Accordingly, contestants consistently pushed the envelope.

“We were hoping to terrify people,” said sophomore Meredith Luby. Luby and sophomore Lani Cromwell offered a piece of performance art, which consisted of a Twinkie-flavored make-out session set to the dulcet tones of Prince’s “Kiss.”

Luby added, “We were going to do a banana originally.”

Poems ranged from the plaintive to the eloquent.

“Why do you close your eyes when we make love?” asked alum Megan Sheridan in the closing line of her poem, which won an honorable mention.

“Defeat the phallus!” cried junior Spencer Musick. “Tampons of empowerment, marching as to war!”

First-year Benjamin Sepsenwol garnered applause for the opening lines of his poem, which won third place.

“Our love is like a moose skiing downhill,” he read, “flowing away from your hate / your abuse / and your masculine domination.”

Last year’s reigning champion, senior Jamie Metrick, gave a live interpretation of Karen Finley’s “I’m an Ass Man.” Metrick won second place for an enthusiastic performance of a piece so R-rated that the British police once threatened to arrest Finley if she continued to perform it.

Yet it was the first-place winner, first-year David Pferdekamper, who brought the house down with a poetic apology for his essential masculinity.

“I remember holding a door open for a woman,” he lamented. “Were she righteous, she would have slapped me.”

He continued with a description of the pain he finally received from his “adult circumcision / and a bad decision,” which left him spotting blood.

“The doctor told me to go to the hospital,” he said, “but I felt alive for the first time in my life.”

His entry was, according to Mortensen, the first in the contest’s history to receive a perfect score of 10 from each judge.

“You were terrible, man!” exclaimed Sepsenwol as Pferdekamper left the stage.

“So were you!” said Pferdekamper.

Not everyone was quite as pleased with the contest.

“I’d just like to take the opportunity to note that a man won this contest,” said second-place winner Metrick. “This is evidence of the violence inherent in the system. And I’m not jealous or anything.”

In the end, however, the contest left its audience laughing – which is what it’s all about.

“I love people exploring their boundaries, you know?” said Mortensen. “It’s a good thing.