Last night, in the middle of trying to do everything plus get ready for my new show “Essay” (which rocked, I started slaughtering the English language before I managed to get my name out of my mouth); I tuned into the Speak Easy Café open mic show. For those of you that don’t know, the speakeasycafe is one of the oldest and largest poetry open mic shows on blogtalkradio. They recently expanded to 3 hours and it is always an amazing experience to listen to all these people, all these poets, from all over, call in and read their piece.
And then came one young woman who started off apologizing, saying she had written the poem at 4 am in the morning and hadn’t read it over for spelling or cadence or whatever and then – she read it. Before she was three words in, her voice was cracking with grief and everyone, everyone listening realized that this was something absolutely courageous that this woman was doing. IN the midst of her pain she put pen to paper and then she stood up and howled her grief – and it was not just about her, it was one of those transcendent pieces in which – while you never lose sight that this poem is very personal to the author, its like she has peeked abit into your own sole and history.
Nyla, the hostest with the mostest, is also the soul and kindness of strength and she reminded all of us that poetry is first and foremost about setting pen to paper and letting words out. There is no right or wrong way to write poetry, no subject that is better than another – and that is something that gets confused in all our posting and commenting on people’s work.
Poetry is a very broad category of writing with a million little niches in it. Each niche generally believes that their way is the only way and you have to learn to ignore that and chose the way for you that allows you to become the best poet you can be and the best poet you can be is the one who can say what is written inside you in a way that still reverberates with truth to you – not to others.
When I talk about creating with the sublime, it is not about learning “the right way” to do something, but learning how to excel at the way you do something. TO learn to speak in your own voice but with clarity and intergrity and dignity.
And one thing I know for sure, one thing that we all felt I think as that woman read, is that someday she will go back to that poem and do that strange polishing to it that comes of editing and refining and rather than remove the raw immediacy of the pain we heard last night, she will find a way to keep it and allow it to become a timeless thing.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do as an artist or writer is stop. Stop for a minute. Shut up for a while and listen and look at what others are doing with the chosen eye of innocence, suspending your judgments and demands. Its like swimming in a sea of possibilities.
I am not even going to go into why I am speed learning about pension reform, but suffice it to say I will later.
c.2011 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.