I am no longer a poetry virgin: for the first time, I read my poems out loud to a group of strangers.
My task was made easier by the fact that it was an informal event, with no lecterns or microphones. We went around the circle twice, and I read a total of three poems in two turns.
My God. I actually did it. I read poems to poets and they liked them.
It may be hard to understand, but this was the bravest thing I have done for a while. It took courage for me to drive unfamiliar roads and find the event. It took courage for me to walk into the room. It took courage for me NOT to walk out of the room in response to the gradual realization that the other poets in the room were all published, and all knew each other, and were all members of the Bay Area poetry scene about which I know nothing.
It took courage not to listen to the voice that said I was out of my league, didn’t belong there, and should stay quiet.
It took courage to read in a clear, resonant voice, not mumbling or hurrying through the poems.
It took courage to read the poems and let them speak for themselves, without prefacing them with a long autobiography or explanation.
It even took courage, when complimented on my work afterward, to smile and say “thank you” instead of making some self-deprecating remark.
Anyway, this is a great stride forward for me. I also gained a lot of good information about other readings and events in my area. Knowing these events are going on creates some frustration about not having the time to go to most of them, but I hope to go to some.
Reading my own work was terrifying, and I can’t wait to do it again.