(A mural above Lucky Chan’s Laundry and Noodle Bar, Northbridge)
I read a poem at the Open Mic today. I’m not a good presenter, very nervous. I thought I would be sick or pass out while waiting to read. My throat went dry, my stomach knotted, and my hands trembled. This was my second time up, and it turned out a little better than the last. I’ve had lots of advice from fellow open mic poets about ‘stage fright’ so here are some suggestions:
- Picture everyone naked–don’t do this, poets are not prom kings.
- Read a very emotional poem, then people will think your trembling voice is from emotions other than fear.
- Keep the poem short. This is really good advice. At some point your legs might buckle, so a short poem means you are already pretty close to being back at your seat when this happens.
- Know which poem you will read ahead of time and practise reading it outloud. If a good deal of it is memorised then you are less likely to stumble over words.
- Finally, something that helped me today was to put back slashes throughout my poem at points where I wanted to remember to beathe. This way, unlike last time, I wasn’t racing through the poem–which is what happens when your heart is beating at 170bpm and the adremeline has your hands shaking so badly you can barely hold the paper your poem is written on.
With that said, here is my poem:
Wish I Did Not Love You
I wish I did not love you when you are high
Singing below my bedroom window
Making my soul smile till its cheeks ache.
Tum! Tum! The full moon drums
My blood surges to the primal beat
Skin prickles from your presence
Heart dances behind the curtains.
I wish I did not love you when you are craving
Singing in my garden at midnight
Calling me to join you in your darkness.
Ting! Ting! The night’s stars ring
Like shining bells on a new tambourine.
I wish I did not love you when you are on your meds
Walking by me with unknowing eyes.
c. Wendy Beach, 2016