Last night, in good company, I went to a first evening of poetry readings at the North East Artisans Community Art Space in Benalla. It just so happens that this closely coincided with our very own first Strathbogie Spoken Word evening last week. However, where our venue was the Strathbogie Recreation Ground pavilion (pretty cold and austere, even when candlelit and with an open fire) this venue felt like someone’s large, yet cosy, living room.
Nonetheless, both events were very warm in thier respective welcoming ways. Ours with a dozen peeps attending, Benalla with around 25 present.
In Benalla, approximately half of the audience either read, recited, or performed original and other’s work. The rest listeded attentively. The subject range was very diverse, from Australian bush themes, to comedy, to biting social commentary, emotive personal narratives and limericks. In Strathbogie, there was recital, mythical story telling, painful and personal reflective works, haiku and a spoken word hip hop reading in duet. Each piece stood alone with the only point of reference – the speaker, so you found yourself immersed in understanding the purpose, message or story as it unfolded.
For me personally, these were significant occasions. The first and second time I have attempted a reading of my own writing in public. Knowing everyone at Bogie made the transition from writer to reciter a bit easier because I felt very secure in the company present. In Benalla, in the company of strangers, I admit my heart was pounding. It was quite a confronting feeling. I expect I over compensated by booming out a love poem, We can dance. However, as the evening came to a close there was an opportunity to do a second reading. I plucked up my courage and read my most recent poetry post, The Death of Miss Richards. It felt better. Hopefully, it will get easier again next time.
Like the Strathbogie evening, everyone certainly appeared to enjoy the occasion. There was a strong sense of sharing something special. That being said, I think the fact that we all knew each other and the smaller numbers at Strathbogie made the space more intimate and the experience quite special, even magical.
I look forward to revisiting both groups and seeing how they develop/grow. Maybe you, dear reader, will be able to join me in sharing the pleasure of an evening or afternoon with the cultivated spoken word.