So, okay, I kind of…

So, okay, I kind of mangled the performance. Not only did I skip an entire stanza, but I stumbled occasionally, and went completely blank twice. I have determined from this that in the future, if my piece is longer than three pages (poetry), I must have it fully memorized at least a week in advance if I'm to have any hope of really having it down to perform. If I had gotten it to the point I did get it to even a day or two earlier, I might have actually been able to perform it well. So that was embarrassing and stressful on stage. I should've remembered better from when I used to play piano seriously as a teenager -- I would have to memorize these twenty-page Rachmaninoff pieces, and even if I had them note-perfect at home, I always always always bungled them on-stage. With music, you can generally just keep going, and most of the audience won't be able to tell that you skipped the adagio section. That's not nearly the case with poetry -- or at least, it doesn't feel the case, when you're speaking directly to the audience.

The two hours beforehand freaking out were also stressful. I was particularly concerned about reading to a predominantly South Asian audience, which I've never done before, and certainly never done with sexual material. And Kevin was sick, so he couldn't come, which made me quite mopey for a while. Ditto Angeli with the sickness, and my sister got the date wrong. So none of my friends actually showed up, and I felt a bit isolated beforehand, which wasn't so much fun, but mostly overshadowed by the memorization terror. So that's all the bad stuff.

That said, the night overall was a success. Most of the performers were women, and we all showed up at 5 to set-up -- I was quite amused to see that most of them had white guys in tow (boyfriends or spouses or whatever); it at least made me feel as if my piece would have some relevance to the other performers, if not to the audience. :-) The audience, as it turned out, was mostly my age (rather than my parents' generation, which would have been more intimidating given the material) and they were extremely kind. About seventy-five people who clapped uproariously for every performance, which was very heartening. And afterwards, lots of people came up and told me they really liked the piece, and a few even said that they thought it was important for me to get up and say the stuff I said. So that was all great.

And apparently, as expected, my sheer terror came across in positive ways for the performance, since people thought I seemed very sincere and appropriately stressed by the material. The advantage of writing about emotionally-charged material -- performance nerves translate well. It wouldn't work nearly as well if I were trying to do stand-up comedy, for example, where it's helpful to appear relaxed. :-)

All the other performers were good too -- this woman Sarwat in particular blew me away with great poetry and a gorgeous singing voice. Interesting video installations, along with photography and sculpture too -- just terrific energy and skill all around. There was a Muslim woman in hijab doing stand-up comedy, which I've absolutley never seen before, and she was fabulous. So that was all good. I'm glad I did it, and glad I went.

Shmuel asked what I wore, so in case anyone else is curious, I went with the close-fitting jeans, my sleek black heeled boots (the short ones, that mostly hide under the jeans), and a thin white-button down shirt with three-quarter sleeves (french-cuffed), tailored and fairly close-fitting (but not too close -- skimming the body, rather than clinging), with a lacy white bra underneath that you could just see the outline of if you were standing near me. Sexy, but in a restrained, casual sort of way. At least that was what I was hoping for. :-) It felt right.

2 thoughts on “So, okay, I kind of…”

  1. Yay, you! Nerves and all, it sounds as though it all went quite well, all things considered. I know how intimidating it can be to read sexually challenging material for members of your community.

  2. Cool. And way to make a splash in the community — I’ll bet yours was one of the more memorable pieces of the evening. (That’s a good thing!)

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