Last night I spontaneously decided to go to a spoken word open mic night in Richmond, London. I’ve been to a few literary based evenings (Book Slam & poetry at the Southbank Centre) and they’ve always really inspired me. I’ve always wished to have the skill, nerve, and opportunity to grace the stage and perform some of my poems, however It always seemed like a silly dream that I’d never have the means or confidence to achieve, but last night I managed to get up and perform two of my pieces. I chose ‘Silence‘ and ‘Jam Sandwich‘.
I found the event on meetup which is a website where you can find every group, club, and activity possible within your city. I’ve been to a few different meetup groups, but this is the first one I’ve attended for a while. This site is a great way to meet new people with similar interests to you. It’s about connecting with people through what you love.
The event took place in The Tea Box, which is the most lovely venue. It’s got an extensive range of teas, I chose a black vanilla mint flavour, and I met someone who had popcorn flavoured tea (amazing). So if you are a fan of tea, it’s a great place to discover lots of weird and wonderful types! The decor is also absolutely beautiful, it’s ornate but cosy and relaxed. It almost feels like you’re sitting in ‘the good room’ at home. The staff are very friendly and also knowledgable, so if you don’t know what to pick they will be sure to help you out.
Performing itself was such a euphoric experience. Standing up and bearing your soul to a bunch of strangers is as terrifying as I thought it would be, but I felt so elated afterwords. It’s the first time I’ve ever performed and I wish I had had the inspiration to perform years ago. I grew up and used to write silly songs, and serious songs…then I realised I couldn’t sing (doesn’t stop me belting Bon Jovi out on Karaoke though). Any time I read poetry it was very conventional and usually about nature (don’t get me wrong I bloody love nature), but because of my limited knowledge of the different types of poetry it meant that any time I attempted to write a poem, I always examined the words on the page and asked myself ‘Is that a poem?’, ‘am I following the rules properly?’, ‘Is that just a paragraph of prose?’, ‘Is that just me ranting about inequality, public transport, and my exes?,’ ‘What even is a fucking poem?!’. I could never really answer those questions. Since moving to London I discovered that spoken word and poetry nights was a thing, and since attending such events, I have learnt that poetry is subjective, and that there are so many styles out there. So If I say it’s a poem, IT’S A POEM, ok.
I’m happy with the two poems I selected to share. I had them memorised in my head so I didn’t read from a book, I just got up and performed. It meant that I could really engage with the audience. The first poem ‘Silence‘ was definitely a good choice since it’s all about being nervous, shy, and socially anxious. And I WAS nervous, shy, and socially anxious. So not only was I performing that character, I WAS that character. Finishing with my shorter and sillier poem ‘Jam Sandwich‘ also felt like a good choice, and I really appreciated the laughter and the obligatory applause.
There was so much unbelievable talent at this event, and so many poets really inspired me. I had such an urge to write during the show and after, and now I feel hooked, I want to perform again and again. I met so many lovely people, and heard so many lovely things. People who could relate to my poems, people who complimented my delivery, and people who told me that my stuff was just really good. Connecting with other writers and being inspired by their work, and offering positive feedback was invaluable. The environment felt safe. There was no judgment. You could say what you wanted (I mean my poems final line was ‘ye fucking bastard’ and that felt great to shout at a bunch of strangers). It really seems like such a lovely community to be a part of, and everyone was so different. Poetry extends to all ages, ethnicities, and personality types, and I love that.
I plan on attending the Poetry Jam event again at The Tea Box, as well as checking out other open mic nights, alongside going to see other well established artists. I couldn’t sleep last night because I needed to write, and I woke up early this morning because I need to write. So now I’m going to do just that, and WRITE.