Tonight while sitting at my computer waiting for blog inspiration, I looked up and saw one of the many cards/pictures/inspiration I have hanging above my desk, which reads:
“everything will be okay
in the end.
if it’s not okay,
it’s not the end.”
This week I did something brave and scary and vulnerable. Sunday night I signed up to read at my first ever competitive slam AND I GOT IN. I have only been this nervous to share my poetry once before…
Rewind to 2010 when I first learned about slam poetry. I was so inspired by a video on youtube that I immediately felt words rush towards me and had to write them down. A friend was planning an art sharing night at the Vineyard church (where I was learning to embrace some of my more dramatic and charismatic nature), so I messaged her and asked if I could share this poem I just wrote.
I think I had less than a week, honestly, it might have even been the day or two before the art night was supposed to happen. I took my college ruled loose paper with my words spelled wildly and running off the lines in my excitement, and drove the 12min drive to my favorite beach. I read my poem to the ocean until my words mixed with the salt air and began to stick in my memory.
Then I stood up in front of maybe 50 people in a mood-lighting-lit room in front of a microphone and spoke my first slam, about being an artist. I shook and talked longer about how I’m-not-really-sure-this-is-a-thing and here’s-all-my-disclaimers than it took to share my poem.
I shook and quaked and got through it to many kind and encouraging words to pay attention to poetry and words in my life.
Since then I’ve read, shared, and performed my poetry (both slam and not) in coffee shops, seminary classes, streets in Portland, at a funeral, in church, as a sermon, to people on the phone, rising up from open worship in Quaker meeting, at coffee houses and talent shows, open mics, whispered in bars, sitting around campfires, and read to friends in my living room.
This has come with a HUGE share of nerves, shaking, self-consciousness, doubt, and somehow oddly some sense of peace in knowing that this is how I share my heart with people.
But Sunday, I stood up at a mic in front of a room full of poets (the scariest kind of audience), and read the last poem I wrote in 2016. I shook so much at first I could barely hold on to my papers, and I asked everyone to take a deep breath with me.
And then I opened myself to room and the words and all the people before me, and spoke, whispered, yelled, and hand gestured wildly.
I’m not gonna lie, after such a DRAMATIC beginning to 2017, 1) I didn’t know if I had it in me to be so brave, and 2) there was something so healing about being up there even though I was afraid and opening myself up to doing it anyway.
p.s. I moved on to the second round! Unnecessary for the magic moment, but pretty cool 🙂
p.p.s. I had some pretty great cheerleaders who drank pre-poetry margaritas for nerves and sat surrounding me and encouraging me through the whole thing 🙂