For those of you who have been following along you would know that I had decided to read some of my poetry at the Dan O’Connell Hotel Saturday Poetry Group in this entry.
About Wednesday this week I decided that this week was the week to do it because otherwise I would just keep putting it off. I roped my artist friend Jonathan into going along with me as moral support and went along this afternoon. I was getting pretty nervous as the time approached to put myself down on the open section to perform, so I went to speak with the MC of the event. She assured me that I would be welcomed, encouraged and that I should get it over with as soon as possible on the list so as not to get consumed by nerves and anticipation; I was third on the list. I knew deep down that as soon as I was standing there and had started to read I would be ok, it was getting up that would be the hard part.
Feeling a little bit sick I was introduced as a virgin performer, the crowd were beautifully encouraging. I opened with a poem I wrote as a tribute to one of my favourite poets I thought I’d suck the audience in, warm them up, with the words of one of my heroes taken and rearranged to express something I lived.
A letter to L. Cohen
I was born like this, I had no choice,
I was not born with the gift of a golden voice,
I struggle daily to find the words to express
The world in which I live.
But I would like to thank you
For the trouble you took from my heart
I didn’t know it was there
Until your words brought me life.
I often think it is I who is the stranger
Who walks through the world touched
By its beauty, its tragedy, its joy
And I know that I am not completely alone
Because I have your voice to guide me
When the night comes on.
I hope you don’t think I’m a traitor,
For writing to you this way,
But I wanted to invite you to drink tea,
That comes all the way from China.
And I know you won’t ever suggest
That you loved me the best,
And I don’t expect you to think of me often,
But it means so much to me that you were there
To save me and find me when I was lost.
And if you ever come this way
You would always be welcome
And as you stepped through my door
I would say a quiet Hallelujah.
Jonathan tells me that someone in the audience yelled testify; I take it that there were a lot of Leonard fans in the audience today and I had a lot of people come up to me afterwards to compliment me on that poem. My second poem was a bit light hearted, I hoped that the audience would laugh in the right part! Here it is:
As the clock ticks into tomorrow
We all get up to leave
The cacophony of laughter abating as we exit
The wait staff breathing a sigh of relief
That our demands on them are over
And they can finally close up
But after all the goodbyes
The see-you-soons and
The glorious cuisine,
On which we gorged ourselves
Before the raucous chorus of cocktails had had their way,
Is no longer enough for me –
I need more, more,
I need to satisfy that deep, dirty part of me that craves
Secretly at midnight on the way home.
The audience seemed to like it, I felt good about it and I was pretty confident to read my last and most self-indulgent poem that talks about my experience of getting lost in music:
Become the music
It is easy to forget sometimes how good it can be
To be swept up in the music of a favourite artist,
To listen and really hear the passion,
To forget where and who you are and simply be an instrument;
Something that allows the music to flow through it,
That swells and contracts in sympathy,
To become connected so completely to the music as to become the music.
Each breath, in and out, draws you further in.
Your emotions rise and fall with the images in your ears
And for these moments you are the song
The beating of your heart in time with the drums
Your veins singing like the strings
And then you feel the music start to move in you
To cause your muscles to contract and release
In patterns that reflect the symphonies you hear
You don’t care what it looks like because there is nothing outside of you and the music now
There is nothing except these glorious electric pulses running through you
The shining light of passion flowing out from your finger tips into the universe and
Lighting up the world with the joy of the songs you create.
It was strange how the feeling of nausea in my stomach went away as soon as I started to speak, I tried to be clear and speak slowly and even though my hands were trembling and I was petrified of screwing up the words I got through all three without any stuff ups. I felt so amazing having done it – I didn’t really understand why I was so nervous, but I guess it’s something that freaks you out the first time and it must get easier each time you do it. And I can now say I have performed my own poetry in front of an audience and I loved it. Now I have to write some more poetry so I can go back and do it again!