2017-11-26

The difference between a poetry open mic and the Albert Hall...

A mighty organ,
earlier today...
I go regularly to a poetry open mic now, it's a great evening and the only way to expose WIP poems to the real world in a performance rather than page context.

Standing up in front of people to read poetry terrified me at first, although the knee trembling has slowly declined over the last year.

Which brings us to the topic of confidence.  In one view confidence is precisely that characteristic which enables us to stand in front of an audience and recite your poetry.  It is often said that it is something you either have or do not, and this is very true.

I would just like to add from my own observations, however, that ninety percent of the people who do have confidence shouldn't.

Imposter syndrome: it's what the worthwhile people have.







The difference between a poetry open mic and the Albert Hall...


...lies mainly in the grand piano.
I wish I had a grand piano here
to hide behind.  Serious props!  It must be nice
to let them take the strain of breaking
the audience's hush; to let the instrument speak,
make clear there's something here to hear
a piano could do all that for me but...
can we do better?

How about an organ?

I don't mean some cheesy Hammond
electric thing, or even a theatre organ that rises
unexpectedly through the floor to explode
your expectations,
no...  this was the Albert Hall, remember.

I mean a world-class pipe organ,
rising from the stage, stage upon stage
to fill all available space with keyboards and stops
and pipes and valves and plaster grapes and flourishes
of gilded angel's heads.  An organ which, in fact,
neither Captain Nemo,
nor the Phantom of the Opera
would be embarrassed to play.

If the instrument is grand enough
then like the most committed electronic bands
-- their banks of keyboards, mixing desks and amps --
the audience need not be sure
a performer is in there at all

and I (we're back with the organ now)
could set the manuals on automatic,
climb to a vibrating eyrie, somewhere in the pipework,
and watch the audience
through powerful binoculars
lip read who makes what aside to whom
at special moments in the tune; note
who has to make a toilet run,
which melody they choose
to cover their retreat,
and are they embarrassed.

And in this hypothetical world,
I will always play an encore
but the audience will never know I did.



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