Everyone will tell you that I’m the shy one of the group. I’m the one with the big smile and laugh, but usually only speaks when spoken to, with obvious exceptions. Sometimes when I do speak around a group of people, I feel like my voice isn’t heard. Maybe I talk at the wrong time. Maybe I’m ignored.
At least with poetry, people listen. I have a distinct voice and style that keeps people paying attention. I rediscovered that at my first showcase feature last Wednesday.
I found out about the feature only a few days before the event. The host was looking for poets/spoken word artists to perform. We shared a mutual friend, so after a few texts and a reading “audition” over the phone, I was in. I hadn’t read a piece in public for years, so once it was decision-making time, I was unsure. Each poet was going to have 20 minutes on stage. I’ve never even had a school presentation that was that long. I kept thinking how was I going to fill up 20 minutes if my pieces usually are a minute on average? Would I find enough in the archives? Would I have to write new material to fill out my performance?
Would I be good enough?
The day came and I had put my order together less than 3 hours before the event. I read each piece at least 3 times within the past few days. I knew that I wasn’t too familiar with some of them, so there were bound to be slip-ups.
I arrived at the venue. It was small and contained a different crowd from the usual events in the area. I immediately discovered that I was going first. The nerves started to kick in.
Soon enough, the warm spotlight was touching me and my words were on display to a full house. I was introduced as my Left Side name (definitely have to do that more often). My nerves were on fire.
But as I read, I calmed down. I decided to introduce myself with a poem called “The Block,” which addresses the bane of writer’s block. I felt myself opening up. As I read pieces new and old, the emotions for each one became familiar like an old friend. I was talking to my former self in 2008 who was on a sort of romantic reawakening. I soon touched bases with my current self, who loves someone so ferociously that it’s a shame that poetry has been on the backburner for so long.
I also read this poem, which caught the most attention from listeners. They were reacting so much that my laughter ended up showing out at times.
I was amazed at this rush I felt as I spilled the history of my heart on stage. I had no regrets and I told my friend that I want to do it again. There’s something about getting out of that comfort zone that made me feel alive…that made me want to write again.
I never want that feeling to leave me.