Thursday, March 01, 2007

another night, another open mic

i know, i know. i am always at these things, but they are where i gain strength. truly. i've been longing for this night for a while. i drive about forty minutes, to read one poem, sometimes two. but it is so worth it. it is, i can't sleep after, worth it.

i met the editor of another literary journal tonight. and connected with a journal editor i have known for a bit now. the face with the name really helps. sometimes as i listen to poets who have a bio the length of my right leg, i am yawning and wondering HOW they got that long bio. but it is also encouraging to me because if some big deal poet who's been at it forever and a day can't draw a huge crowd, i don't have to get too down if there aren't many souls at my shindigs (and there haven't been. see, it's all a matter of perspective).

but meeting the poets i now know locally, spending even five or ten minutes with them connecting (i guess this is what people call networking, but i don't think of it that way. networking to me has always been used car salesman in bad polyester suits telling loud obnoxious jokes and chain smoking). maybe not, but that is how it is in my mind. kind of like evangelism. but i digress.

open mics are just the places we poets go to hear one another. no networking, just sharing digits with those we respect. it is a great honor to have a heavy duty poet say,
that was powerful!
a great honor to have an editor say,
send me that poem.

all the fruit of a short drive. but i do have to bring damn good poems. you get one shot at these things. some guy read tonight and i was off in la la land. not everyone can hold your attention. if a poem can't compel the audience to listen, forget about it. stay home. or come and be challenged to do better (YES! that is an excellent option).

it's a fine line between being shy and not thinking your stuff is good enough and sucking and not knowing it. it's not hard to read a room though. if people are more interested in picking at their fingers or thumbing through a book than looking right in to your eyes (or better yet, eyes closed), you've got a problem.

but when they lock in and listen. when that pindrop silence happens and a poem comes alive. that, baby, is what it's all about.

i call my sister on my ride home and i'm sounding like parnelli jones veering in and out of cars trying not to miss roads. someone please, fire the new jersey sign man. he sucks!

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