Without stopping to find my beret I dashed off to the poetry workshop in town. I happened upon the information at the last moment but as it was in the same venue as the recent writer’s workshop I had attended, I knew exactly what to expect. Wrong.
Sitting in on a poetry reading session prior to the poetry performance I was shown the ropes. The evening’s performer had provided a sample of her work to be analyzed by the group. A group facilitator serenely led this exercise. Immediately absorbed into the group I was fascinated with the personalities around the table. No doubt, I was under scrutiny as well.
When this experience came to its conclusion we went into the main event room and joined the group gathered there to be entertained. After a few predictable moments of listening to a couple of original poems we had also workshopped in the other room, a few contest details and a pleasant introduction of the performing poet artist , the overhead lights were shut off. A trio of very muted lamps were turned on to set the mood. A séance/coffee house- like mood was achieved. No bongo drums were used but the artist at one point kept a beat by tapping her index finger on her microphone.
Sitting at the rear of the room my view of the petite performer was limited due to the size of the man sitting directly in front of me. I could have moved closer to the front but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in the process so I spent the next couple of hours in the dark. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Instead of hearing the typical poetry I expected to hear I absorbed sound distortions, cringed when the artist checked her cell phone several times during her performance and watched the reactions of everyone in the room. At one point the artist forgot some stuff she intended to say and worked through it. Only one person walked out on her.
Her material was about animals, women and relationships. Her use of technology, sound manipulation of her own voice and references to her performance art experiences was beginning to get through to me. I sat in my dim corner behind a big guy and just appreciated the on the spot art happening in the room. My mind absorbed and opened a little further.