Even if only for a brief moment in time...
Saturday, was the day that I was a featured reader at the "May Open With Women Unbound".
When I initially thought about speaking at this event, I was completely calm about it. As time went on, I was still calm; it was only when it came down to the day of that I began to lose my nerve. Time that morning seemed to zoom by and nothing seemed to be going right for me. If I allowed myself even a second to believe that the events of the morning were a prelude to the events of that afternoon, then I would've completely lied to myself.
The event time was 2 PM, I arrived there at 2:04 PM. In my mind, I was terribly late but the women hosting the event (Lorraine Cipriano and Kayla M. Williams) let me know that I wasn't late at all. Their friendly smiles and welcoming demeanor allowed me to calm down and relax. A lot. After brief introductions between us and small chatter, I donated "The Growth of a Writer" to be given away in their raffle and set a few of each of my books on the table up front to be sold after the event.
Time ticked by and my anxiety eased down to a mere rapid heartbeat. As nervous as I felt, I was even more anxious to get up to that podium and share my words with the guests that had taken time out of their busy lives to attend the event as well. My mom, my sister (with infant son), and my daughter had accompanied me so I knew that if anything, I had not only my support system but a focal point when speaking to the crowd. As Kayla and Lorraine began speaking, I began watching the time. The more they spoke, the quicker my heart began to beat.
Tick Tock. Tick Tock.
The time came when they began to introduce me to the room and as they wrapped up their introduction of me, I gulped in a deep breath, stood with pride, and walked up to the podium as if I owned the room. Well that's how I felt I did it anyway. I said a few words and then I read various poems from all three of my poetry books, stopping here and there to make mention of what might have inspired me to write a certain poem. I tried to maintain good eye contact with the entire room, but I know that there was a moment or two when I didn't look up at all. In those moments, I was relieving the reason that caused me to write the poem in the first place. Every emotion that was poured into the poem, came back and hit me in the chest like a 2 ton weight. I couldn't have looked up at the audience if I wanted to; my emotions were too raw. Once I was finished, I wrapped it up by thanking my audience and was asked a couple of questions before I returned to my seat to listen to the other featured readers share their words. Only then, did my breathing go back to normal.
The entire time that I was in front of the audience, I was completely nervous. I could feel myself doing things that I felt like the audience was focusing on, proving how nervous I was. I was bouncing from foot to foot and stumbling over words. Each time I stumbled over a word, I could feel the heat rise to my face as I corrected myself and moved on. What the audience couldn't see was the desperate grip that I had on my books and on the rare occasion, the podium. Mind you, NONE of this was mentioned to me afterwards, at all. Everyone that spoke to me said that I did well while I was up there and the feedback was nothing short of positive on my work.
Looong story short, I gained new fans that afternoon and a new appreciation for what I have set out to do. By the way, did I mention that they're going to try and get my books in the library? Yup, they are. I'm blessed to be able to do what I love to do and I'm thankful that I have never given up on my dream...
If you're interested in hearing/seeing me read, as well as a few other talented poets, here is the youtube link for that video: May Open With Women Unbound