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Winning on the Affirmative


Recorded Reading:


Winning on the Affirmative

“Forensics” is the study of public persuasion ~ from dramatic and humorous interpretation to original oratory, and solo and team debate. When this poet was in High School we called it “Speech Class.”

It was, to say the least, an interesting melee.

Weekend intramural competition days were somewhat scruffy miniatures of our finer prep schools. There were to be found all the future lawyers, politicos, journalists, broadcasters, satirists and, yes, poets (already discernably misfit but fully present and in fact quite prizewinning) to whom an ability to maintain strictly organized thought while speaking extemporaneously at two hundred words a minute, or to melt the hearts of whole roomfulls of people simultaneously, seemed desirable.

Sallies of humor tended to be in the venerable Harvard Lampoon mode.

Toward the end of any particularly harrowing weekend team members were known to link arms and lift knees in a chorus-style chain of mutual encouragement and (hopefully) enablement.

“You’ll never hear a stutter,” we sang. “You’ll never hear a screech! Our words are smooth as butter, because our game is speech!”

There was even an “Alfred E. Newman Meet” at the end of the season. Don’t even ask.

The poet held an exceptional degree of respect for her forensics team coach ~ in every way a dedicated and affirmative role model, stabilizing but not stifling the busload of highly original teenaged thought and expression he marshalled to district events.

“When you win,” he used to say with perfect seriousness, “that’s your hard work getting its result. When you lose ~ that’s my fault.”

How can you not love a guy like that?

Only once did I ever hear him throw any verbal pall over a student’s limitless potential.

“There is never an excuse,” he told us, “to lose on the negative.

“It’s easy to tear down someone else’s proposal ~ if you can’t do that you really can’t do much.

“The challenge is to put something together which will work, and then to prove that it can be backed up with constructive action.”

The poet has never forgotten this lesson.


Among us, poets are ill paid. In order to continue her work, this one currently lives in her minivan, on an income of a fraction of our nation’s poverty level. If her work has moved, enabled or uplifted you, your contribution to this effort may be made at:



Published by Ana Daksina

Read worldwide half a million times, Ana Daksina is a Troubador of the coming age.

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