Sunday, April 15, 2007


i'm feeling some of my old strength returning and after yesterday's read for a major poet, i am feeling quite good.

i went to a workshop for a huge poet yesterday, and it turned out that everyone in our group had done readings, so his speciality and focus was giving readings. much, much to say there as his experience over the past eleven years has been organizing the woodstock of poetry. very cool.

anyway, i had to read for him. it is not every day one stumbles in to the presence of this type of poet. i don't bother to introduce myself to poets before they hear me read because, as i've said so many times, introductions among poets mean nothing until they've heard you read. (or i've heard them).

so, time is winding down, he is very gracious and spending lots of time with people but i'm simultaneously aware that (1) they will yank him from the room at 12 sharp, (2) my meter is running out and i may get a ticket, (3) i have to read for this guy, and (4) it is 11:45. so i jam out to the meter, sprint to around the corner and down the block to pump quarters in.

i burst back into the room as quietly as possible but i'm out of breath and the guy who had just read is stepping down from the stage. the big poet looks around and says,
who's next.
i said,

so, i went up, and rather breathlessly read a poem i've written about a particularly difficult time in my early years. one that is incredibly graphic and damn good if i do say so myself.

the whole time during the workshop this major poet is saying,
it's something if the poet giving the reading can actually deliver the poem to the audience with power. make eye contact. let the poem have space to be.

i was dying for my chance.

and got it.

i read one poem, panting in some places, but my elocution suffered only slightly. and after he had a great deal of kind things to say.

the i hopped off the stage and a poet came up after me who seemed to be apologizing for being there. her demeanor, the way she read, the vibe she emitted was,
i'm sorry to take your time.

anywhoo, i told her after the read and we were alone, that i could not hear her poem, i was so affected by her presence.

be brave, unapologetic. take over the space and read. present your poem.
i told her.
you have as much right to be there as i do.

listen, we're all unique. we all have things to say and peculiar ways of saying them. your way and my way won't be identical and that is the best part of the whole deal.

let me hear your voice. let me hear your poetry. stop apologizing for it and tell me what it is you came to say.

that, my friends, is what makes for a powerful read.

1 comment:

Michelle Pendergrass said...

I thought of you today.

There's an author who need a poem and God put you in my head. :)

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