I'm the featured reader tonight at an open mike event, the first "solo" reading I've done in almost nine years. Minor jitters, though I'll know many of the people there. The question I have to ask myself is this:
"In what manner do I desire to remove all my clothing in public?"
Because being a poet, and reading one's work in public, is a lot like that.
I used to give readings several times a year, but went into a hermit-like state with my writing after some major life-shattering events a decade ago. Other than blogging, and my monthly writing group, I dropped out of the scene. Rarely submitted new work to magazines. Rarely went to readings. Stopped reading most poetry.
And then last fall, on the encouragement of some friends, I began going to a 3x/month open mike event, and found a new home. There is music, poetry, fiction, memoir — a little bit of everything, from people of varying abilities, and a wide range of ages. All warmly welcomed, all entertaining, mostly all inspiring.
Part of me is still kicking and screaming, wanting to retreat to the safety of No Exposure. And then there's the other part of me, who finds great comfort as well as a thrill in the well-tuned line of verse. And I'm taking an even bigger risk tonight with my theme. Instead of my usual assortment of family/death/birds/humor, I'm reading an all sex/love/desire collection of a "poet's dozen" of 13 poems, including a few that have received no critique from anyone. Nothing like jumping off the cliff at full speed, eh?