Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Anti-Social Poet?

There are a group of local poets who meet at my Center once a month. Last night I'd been asked to judge a Poetry Slam. Unfortunately, there weren't as many as expected, so the contest bit the dust. But poets must share their work. So they did. And I stayed to increase the number of audience members. Besides, I work around lovely people but most are not interested in wrapping their brain around words not often bandied about. It was like a mental playground and I was happy to sit on a swing and watch them play.

I'll be the first to admit that I often write for me....or anyone who wants to read my written word on the page. I'm not the stand-up-in-the-spotlight kind of person. Nope, I'm usually the silent general behind the scenes making sure everything runs smoothly. So a part of me was awed by the fact I was in a room where everyone [except me] wanted to stand up and speak. One after another they stood at the front of the room, sending a wave of words our way. Deep emotions, painful experience, aching longing all floated on air in a silently respectful room. And when the words ceased and the applause came, the emotions still stood proud, as if waiting for their accolades as well....which they received in the form of discussion and debate. This lively repartee included a wide eyed youthful, "Are you kidding me?" moment. The youngest poet was gently teased about his pride in penning the phrase, "Knocking on Heaven's Door" , a concept musically penned by Bob Dylan years before this kid was even born. As if to assure the young man he wasn't being lied to, several in the room began to sing.

Given the number of people singing, or attempting to, I think he believed them.

Each poet did three poems. At the conclusion of one, a poet admitted the piece was 11 years old. Someone misunderstood and asked in surprise, "You wrote that when you were 11?" She laughed and repeated her sentence while adding, "Who would remember something they wrote at the age of 11?"

Inside the little kid in me raised her hand. Okay, so I was twelve. Close enough.

No, I didn't volunteer that information because there would've been an insistence that I share it with the group. I was actually sitting in a rocking chair...it was comfortable. Standing up to face them wouldn't have been. And then there would've been the discussion and questions about my mental state. Here, read my little written in 60 seconds poem...which was actually published in my Jr. High School's Literary magazine, much to my surprise.

"One day I found the world quite dead.
So I began one in my head.
And there was something I did find.
I'd rather live within my mind."

I remember how fast that little snippet of a poem had come to me. Then I re-read it. And it scared the shite out of me. To my little girl brain the words sounded like I had a mental disorder or was, at the very least, growing anti-social. Wasn't I too young to be a hermit? Who but the deranged withdrew from the real world to create one in their head?

Two kinds of people. Twelve year old girls afraid of the natural changes the body experiences under the control of a brain not yet wired to accept them.

And writers.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

LOL! I'm glad you did stay and get to see what craziness goes on with a group of poets gets together. Yes, we do like to share our words and talk about the poems, what was behind it, what were you thinking, what were you feeling...sometimes a poem stands alone and sometimes getting into the emotions behind it can give an entirely new view and meaning. Come again! We enjoyed having you.