dusting off an old win

by Rasika Mathur

So I’m on the hunt for treasure in the parents’ garage, furiously forming garbage, recycle, shred and keep piles, when I come across this envelope.

Oh my! It has the FONT and THICKNESS of buried treasure…

What’s all this?? I won an award, for my poem “Pollution?” I don’t know what is more adorable — the certificate or my environmental concern packaged into rhyming verse.

I gotta see this poem. I don’t remember submitting “Pollution” to a Poetry contest. I open up the vanilla-colored paper, and there it is, in all its Dot-Matrix printed glory:

Ok, so it looks like by poem, I meant rap. I get it. It was 1990. I was obviously channeling the heavy influences of Bell Biv Devoe, Digital Underground, Young M.C. and Salt ‘N Pepa. This is back when I was obsessed with In Living Color. Weren’t you?

The World of Poetry was obviously so charmed with me and my progressive vibe and youthful expression, that the following year, they invited me to fly to New York City to present the poem in person! On my own dime!

Possible $20,000 and celebrity status? For my humble little rap??

I CANNOT BELIEVE MY MOM AND I DIDN’T GO DO THIS. Who knows who I could have become if I’d performed my Golden Poem for them?! Maybe I’d have a tenth of Amanda Gorman’s success and accolades! Maybe I’d find Toastmasters early! Maybe I would have gotten the attention of a Mr. Arsenio Hall and gotten invited to come on and perform on his show! And then word would get around to Damon and Keenen Ivory Wayans! Maybe I’d crossover to get my TV Sketch Comedy career going! Become a spokeswoman for a reputable pet food brand! Do some foot modeling! Get jaded! Hit the bottles afterward! Find pot a decade early! What a glorious sliding door fantasy!

Ohhhhh boy, and there it is. I actually JUST dug up — in the middle of blogging this entry — an entire notebook devoted to my (do-you-believe-me-now) obsession with In Living Color.

Dopamine hits of newsprint.

My Heroes.

So. this was me in 1990. A weird girl who loved comedy, rap, and the planet Earth. Wonder who she turned out to be.

You can follow Rasika on Instagram @funnyogini and @jalapenopopper2012 to find out.

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