a cork board


What Poetry Means To Me
PMpSat, 23 Jul 2016 12:26:41 +000026Saturday 1, 2010, 12:26 pm
Filed under: the ether, the mirror, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

YogiWSMenu

A few years ago I was doing some solo grocery shopping at Fresh Co. I was in a hurry, in the zone wearing track pants and trying to grab some orange juice get home quickly. A lady walking with her daughter saw me and slowed down. She paused, half-tilted her head and grinned. She said “you’re a poet right?” I hadn’t performed in a couple of years and had all-but-forgotten about that part of my life. I said “yes, yes I am.” She said she saw me feature at Guelph Poetry Slam in November of the previous year (that was even almost 2yrs removed from performing) and loved my work. She said she bought both of my books and keeps them in her car. It left me feeling perplexed and very good. Wow, my words touched someone.

Last week I was at Starbucks ordering the closest I can get to fancy there, a Grande Americano. The cashier asked my name “Yogi, Y-O-G-I”. She paused, looked up and said “do you do spoken word?” I said “I used to.” Turns out, she used to manage a bar/restaurant where I used to perform at a lot in 2012. She knew my work pretty well. She asked me why I’d stopped. Truth be told, I put it down to focus on being a present father with my little ones. She paused again, “you were good, I remember. You should do it again.” I showed her my journal in hand and said I was working on it. It left me feeling confused. I actually said I used to. WTF? When did that happen?

Something happened in the years I stopped performing. I went through a few years of writer’s block. But I’ve gotten past that. In the last year I’ve been writing a lot, lot more. I’m not finishing anything, but I’m writing nonetheless. Good ideas, good wordplay. I’m getting back in the groove. I was in a really good place in 2012 when I stopped. I felt more comfortable on stage than I ever had before. I was churning out more new, quality poems. My stage voice had found legs to stands on and wings to fly with. But I wanted to be present and accounted for during bath time, story time, good night kisses and late night snuggles. I wanted to be there for it all and I didn’t wanna miss a thing. Spoken word/Poetry slam have been around for a while, it’ll be fine without me. It’ll welcome me back when I’m ready too.

What happened in the meantime was cynicism. It was skepticism. I began to wonder if words can ever really have an impact. Why bother? What legacy do these poems and performances really have? What are we really leaving behind? I still sit and wonder about it. You stand up for 3 minutes and 10 seconds, speak your truth and bare your soul and make some noise for a round of applause, some pats on the back, some much-needed personal release and that’s about it. It began to feel like it was just spinning wheels, like an exercise for the ego. Are we really awakening minds, or are we just another passing phase? Does what you say stick with someone when they wake up in the morning? I’ve been questioning the purpose and reason behind this spoken word thing for a while now and it began to make me jaded.

But then the universe had me cross paths with someone like I did that day at Starbucks or Fresh Co. Someone reminds me, hey your work really inspired me. I occasionally bump into a person who heard me speak my truth 4-6 years ago, and I’m still with them. My words uplifted them then and stayed with them. So I start to think that maybe there is some resonance. Maybe there is some staying power. Maybe there is something more to it than ego and glory and punchlines. Performing/Sharing poetry isn’t about immediate change. It’s about planting seeds. It’s about creating a spark. We may never see the tree take root or see the inferno blaze across the horizon, but it’s there. It’s a lot like karma, it takes time but it happens without fail.

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Poetry, for me, has always been very personal. I never excelled at tackling “issue poetry” unless I was able to relate myself into it. Standing on that stage, just you and the microphone. Just your voice and the audience. Just your gut and their ear drums. There’s something magical about that. The butterflies. The feeling that you’re going to fall…but then you take flight. I’ve gone to a couple of poetry slams in the last couple of months on account of my wife encouraging me. She gives me gentle little pushes into it and I’m taking her queue little by little. I don’t want to make a team and compete on a national stage, but I want my voice out there again. Because I finally realized, after all this time, that I have something to say…and it’s worth hearing.

 

 

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