Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Well that's new and kinda awesome.

Over the last several days, I've been actively working on a poem and thinking about poetry readings and open mics. And not just to go to'em--but prospectively read at'em too :-D

This is such a big deal for me. One, working on this poem feels so different and so good, I'm pretty stoked. Two, inexplicably I've gone from shyly declining any notion of reading aloud to insanely eager. And, three, somehow this eagerness has formed a sense of how I want to read my poetry--and that sense has shaped how I approach my poetry as I draft and revise.

I can't even remember if there were any reason this poem was different. Like, it started more or less like any other, if perhaps with more confidence about from the outset.

Besides that sense of assuredness regarding the work, the biggest difference has been this highly empowering feeling that, going into this, I have a stronger set of tools.

Let me rephrase that: I feel like there's some order about this, some--if rough--plan helping me move from one draft to the next. I'm to the thirdish draft, dude, and going strong--not yet feeling any kinda overwhelmed or intimidated.

If this sounds like bragging--it's not. This is the sound of amazement and excitement. I feel like a real writer for the very first time I can remember--and it is so, so gratifying.

I also mentioned readings. I've done a couple readings in my lifetime; sometimes my own, sometimes another's (Walt Whitman's "From Pent-Up Aching Rivers" and T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men"), and sometimes just on video for youtube.
Those were enjoyable though idle enough experiences.

This time--this desire to present my work aloud and live-action is much fiercer and much hotter.

I remember how fantastically inspiring and galvanizing the last open mic I went to was; I didn't read but somehow just experience the work and performance of others struck deep and got me resonating. But that was a while ago and although it largely led to some cool stuff--like doing that reading with Parker--it didn't go much of anywhere. And it was a long while back.

So, now, I have not only recovered this burning, aching need to to go on stage with my own poetry but also blow everyone away. And then some.

I want to go up on stage; perhaps I'll seem unremarkable enough at first. That is until I start reading. I want to emote and express every word and line--I want to rage and weep and laugh and whisper and growl. I want to enact my poetry line for line.

But not as mere trimmings and frivolous decoration. It's all well enough and good to be dramatic and thereby, hopefully, grab the listener and move them deeply. Truly, a lovely aspiration. But the poetry itself must, I demand of myself, also be beautiful and poignant. The dramatizing must be commensurate--as much and as often as possible--with the poem's significance.

They must justify as much as bolster eachother. If I am crying into the microphone as I read, then my heart ought to be breaking in those lines. If I am shouting angrily, I should prolly be nearing some breaking point of frustration at you (and myself).

All this--this sense of my personal style in delivery--has affected how I approach the writing & drafting & revising process. It makes it easier to let go of mediocre lines in favor of stronger, more efficient and effective ones. It fosters concision and melody and order. And, most importantly, it reinforces the values I've long held regarding poetry (especially my own poetry) which leaves me feeling so satisfied and emboldened.

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