Monday, September 19, 2005


okay, so i put my poems on tape. i found my voice recorder from college and spent part of yesterday afternoon looking through my poems to see which ones i'd rather know by heart, and i came up with maybe ten of them. then i taped the poems. i figured that if i could listen to them repeatedly, i would start to memorize them. i mean, when i think about the ridiculous amount of songs that i've learned over a lifetime - shoot, when i think about the fact that i can recite parts of other people's often repeated poetry by now - i'm pretty sure that i can learn my own. matter of fact, after i played the tape back to myself, i learned a few things.

first, i like my poems. i mean, yeah there's that sense of pride and accomplishment that i get when i have created a new poem on a blank page with nothing but my mind and a pencil. but so far as appreciating the way i use the words - my imagery, my use of devices like vernacular language, metaphor, alliteration, repetition - you know, the stuff i had to learn in school - i hadn't really gotten into appreciating my own talent until i was just listening to the tape.

another thing is, my voice is like an instrument. i mean, not like in a singing type of way, but more like, it is my choice to manipulate the tone and the pace of my voice, even the breathing i do, and depending on the choices i make, a poem can sound like a totally different piece, like putting a song to different background music, or elevating or lowering a chorus to a completely different key. so i'm guessing that, like an instrument, the more i practice, the better i will get at conveying just the right emotion when sharing a poem with others.

somehow that stuff seems less important when i am reading to others from my marble composition notebook, eyes on the page, intent on reading the piece and getting off the mic so that i can fade back into semi-anonymity. it's not that i don't read with emotion, and it's not like i don't try to truly convey the right stimulation to get my audience to understand the feeling with which a poem was written. but i'm wondering what it's going to be like, the first time i try to share a poem without that marble notebook, hands free, eyes free, body free. i wonder if i will be scared.

it was different when i was in the gospel choir or the drama club at school. there i was surrounded by others. i never had (or wanted) a solo. and i only had to do one monologue when i was acting. when i was on my sorority's step team, i never had to step out there by myself cause i was with others on the stage. there is safety in numbers, and maybe that's why my stage fright was minimal. another thing is, i wasn't sharing my heart and my mind. i may have been lending my voice to strengthen the choir, but it's not like i wrote the songs. i may have been doing that monologue all by myself, but it's not like i wrote the play. i may have helped choreograph the stepshow, but it's not like the steps reflected who i am personally or what my mind holds.

with poetry, it's me. just me, by myself, expressing the gears in my head and the emotions in my heart. i'm going to try a new piece tomorrow, from the book. but i'm also going to try an old piece... from my head. i guess i'll see how it feels then. and this time, i won't punk out, like i did with the singing...