Fear and Water

Post date: Apr 18, 2017 7:12:22 PM

I have never been to a poetry reading, except maybe in a land far away and at a time I think I may have imagined, but I recently went to an open poetry reading organized by Mass Love Distro. It never even crossed my mind to bring poems because I just wanted to sit and listen—to soak it all in and see what the setup was. I pictured lots of people in a room and having to read my poems for them. Fear won. So, I just sat trying to absorb the words coming at me. Some had copies of poems on paper while others scrolled through phones serving as pocket teleprompters.

Poetry—where do I begin? It’s so finely tuned. It’s so free, and yet—tethered. Tethered to our souls and to unspoken truths—to tradition and to its many varied forms. It does not tend to drone on and on—although it certainly has the ability to do so and famously has at times. But, aside from the lengthy examples, poetry is quite possibly the most efficiently packaged transcription of our deepest musings, desires, and dreads.A picture—sure, it’s worth a thousand words. But, what happens when it rains and a picture warps and weeps and wallows in its own pulpy mess. You still have those thousand words. Words will never dissolve or run and there are no tangible enemies of words until, of course, they are written. That is Water. There is no getting around the fact that Water seems to be at odds with Art, in general. As for Art’s other nemesis—there is really only the one intangible foe. That is Fear. I guess the enemies of art boil down to two very large and intimidating but quite agile infiltrators: Fear and Water. It makes sense. Most of the Earth is covered by the two.

Back to poetry—to words and images. For something so cerebral, it can feel quite physical. A feeling of what we are trying to convey rises to the surface of consciousness and percolates until we nearly tremble with its presence and need to set it free in some form—hoping Fear and Water do not seep in and stop it all.

The reading was intimate and seemed to be a safe place to uncover your heart and just lay it out for all to watch beat, to admire—then sit while focus shifts to the next heart and the next and the next. It is a very different experience from reading poems on paper. The whole thing was a bit awkward and at times uncomfortable, but I guess something so human and intimate should be awkward. Being human is awkward. There will never be Hollywood versions of our selves.

There is silence, there is nervous laughter, there is shifting in seats, there is the drifting imagination and the forced refocusing. There are the explanations and disclaimers, the apologies and for the brave ones among us there is the setting free—the letting it all hang out.

Honesty is such a relief. Honesty is a stripping down, an admission, a step toward acceptance of our self. Honesty is not neat. It is pure, and in order for something to be consumed in its pure state it must remain raw.

Maybe I should have brought some of my poems. The others tell me, “Just pull them up on your phone.” But, “I don’t have a phone,” I explain. I feel like I missed a rare opportunity. I wanted to grab a paper and pen and write a poem right there as I felt the pull to participate. But I did not. Next time. The road is long and my pen is full of ink. I will just need to be on the lookout for Fear and Water trying to stop me.