Do I Make You Nervous?

At the Racket at the Rocket last I week I had great conversation with a writer who was hitting the stage for the very first time. More than anything she wanted to know about being nervous – how nervous do I get?

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I can still remember my first time on the open stage. It was in 2000 at the Renaissance Cafe. It was probably Valentino Assenza’s Cryptic Chatter. I’d been in a poetry work shop for about a year by then & wanted to push beyond workshopping. I lunched at the Ren at times & one the waiters mentioned Chatter and I showed up.

Yeah, I was nervous. Afraid even to have a ginger ale that would make me pee happy too soon. I remember that urge to pee all through my few pieces, the lights in my eyes and my voice, which I hated, and wondering if I was reading too fast, loud enough. In the house that night was Paisley Rae (she might been a feature) looking very hot & gave a great reading. Kevin Fortnam did an amazing piece too.

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I think my biggest fear was being out. I don’t remember what pieces I read, I might be able to go through my archives & find out though. But I’m sure one had more than a queer subtext. There was no ‘get the fag’ vibe.
I was hooked & kept going back to Chatter – which give me my first feature, as well. Over the next year I must have done nearly 100 open stages which certainly cured me of my nerves.

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So I told this newbie a bit of that story & added that I still get a bit of nerves, usual after I’ve started. I asked another poet who was with us, who has seen me perform & host more than a few times, if I ever seemed nervous on stage and he said not a bit. Nerves really go away but stop showing.


April 21, Monday – featuring – Lizzie Violet’s Poetry Open Mic at The Amsterdam Bicycle Club – 7:30 – doors and open mic sign up, 8:00 – start – 54 The Esplanade, Toronto

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April 27, Sunday – attending – Julie Czerndea Workshop

June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

June 23-27 – attending – Manuscript to Book – Loyalist Summer Arts – Belleville, Ont
August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada



before bed last night
I had the thought
to make this day
the new day
the sunny bright cold next day
a day of the spirit
where I could explore what ever that grace was
to express in limited words
the joy the grief of being one
who feels without sight the spirit

I get my connection through
my love
the gift of one to care for and be cared by
I’m not one of those who seeks only to love
but to also be open to the love of others
to experience both ends of that equation

he calls in little tears
the frustration of the job
the pressure of this life
that he seems to live some days
only to be near the one who loves him
I cannot reach through the phone line
to wipe away those tears
I can only tell him
it is a frustration
no one likes to deal with it
he’s just another one of the little cogs
in some big machine
that has to feel the pinch of futility
I ache for him
I utter a prayer and move on with my life

the phone hung up
but the echo of his pain
remains in my head
my heart
a pain that I cannot sooth
a pain that he must find
the inner strength to sooth
to allow it to be soothed
a pain
that running away will not change
that the right salary
the right lap
the right boss
the right productivity level
none of these things will assuage that pain
that small part of us
that remains human
that remains in need of spirit

which is where I step back
to allow spirit to come in
I can say my words of love
of calm of unconditional affection

my sweet little man
who fends against the unfeeling world
out there
in the midst of the wires
wiles complaints and dead ends
works his best and feels unappreciated
only feels he is fulfilled
when he is appreciated praised
now needs to dig within to find
that self strong enough to rise above those needs
that self
that needs only to be in contact with the spirit
the power beyond the flesh

I can trust
he will find that contact
before the busy cold world
tears him apart
renders him insensible bitter
frightened furious
lost unwilling
like so many
who take it upon themselves
to make the others fall into
the bleak lock step

I will call later
say my small encouragement soft words
offer the comfort of my arms
my body
the tenderness of a moment
that may carry us through that moment
that may work
I can only show that the spirit is there
I cannot force it into anyone
I hope he can find
his way to surrender and
to breathe easy


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