Thursday, March 12, 2009

Open mic

About two weeks ago I was at the library with the kids and saw a poster announcing a juried poetry reading. Unfortunately, the deadline had passed and when I called and asked if it was possible to sneak in an entry just a week late I was told politely but firmly, no. But then the lady on the other end of the line said, "You know, we do have an open mic poetry night coming up on the twelfth, and I can put you on the list if you want."

I signed up, and then spent the next week ignoring it and trying not to obsess. See, I have a side of me that loves to perform, to be in the spotlight, and it's a side I'm afraid of because it feels so self-seeking and indulgent. So I purposefully put off choosing which poems to read until earlier in the day of the reading, and didn't even practice them once I had decided. I determined to fly by the seat of my pants, not strive for perfection, but just do the poems justice and let them speak for themselves. I was nervous about it, especially in front of a room of strangers, and reading my own untried poems.

Jim dropped me at the coffeehouse house in Yakima that was hosting the event and then took the kids shopping at Costco. Starting out the evening was a guest poet, whose name escapes me, but whose work was wonderful: real, vibrant, transcending and lyrical. I listened attentively, forced myself to relax and not get distracted while he read a love poem about cheese and crackers, about his dog, and why he wanted to die on the moon.

Luckily, I was third on the list after him. I got my own reading over with and then relaxed and enjoyed every one else's work. The other poets ran the gamut from heavily pierced high-schoolers to silvery-haired matrons, theatrical posturing to painfully shy, and included all levels of skill, walks of life, and ranges of subject matter. It was a creative oasis for me, just listening to other artists' truths and sharing my own. Best of all, at the end of the night, the hostess announced that Allied Arts of Yakima Valley will be offering a poetry workshop in May with Washington's poet laureate, Sam Green.

I had originally told Jim that I wanted to get my treadmill fixed for my anniversary present (he got his early: an Xbox), but today I told him I had reconsidered and was willing to work out at the pool instead, just so I could go to the workshop.


Holly said...

YAY!!! you did it! I hope you like the workshop too!

aubrey said...

awesome! that is so great that you did that! i love that there was a healthy mix of poets there.

...deb said...

Whoa. What a great moment. I appreciate all the details. I have *never* read in front of anyone, open mic or otherwise.

Good for you! wOOt!

(I know this has been a while ago. I am catching up. Or trying to.)