Last month I did something I don't often do.
As in, I don't ever do.
I read a poem I had written off my phone. In front of a crowd. And it was how I set the tone for the monthly spoken word night I host.
I have so many mental reasons why I tell myself I don't do this. 'You're a professional! Real performance poets memorise everything! People expect a certain standard from you!'
And I'm not chucking the baby out with the bathwater. There are good reasons I memorise my poems. I want to wear them like skin for the audiences I share with. I want to know I can look into people's eyes while I share what I have carved out with care. I want to be able to breathe the full life I intended into the phrases I crafted.
But, in all of those reasons, what am I saying about others?
What am I role modelling to the student I urged to share,
even if it was just one shakey line from a phone,
even if it was just saying their name,
even if was just sharing their breath on a stage?
I am saying I am past that. That I am bigger than that. Above that. Beyond that.
But, here and now, I am calling myself out.
I am the student, who sometimes needs to urge myself to share,
even if it's just one shakey line from a phone,
even if it's just saying my name,
even if it's just sharing my breath on a stage.
I'm a learner. I'm small. I'm a work in progress.
So, I did this. I took my own advice. I became vulnerable.
I made a confession.
a confession before any applause
Let me confess that I often feel like a fraud
I wear self-doubt with confidence
I frame all negatives as positive
I am persistently optimistic
which just means I often lack honestness
a writer who never writes
a teacher who never learns
I’m a book that lays open
but certain pages never turn
I glued them shut.
I spend my life creating spaces for others to be vulnerable
yet somehow the sharing of my own scars seems too uncomfortable
What I celebrate in others I ridicule in my self
I recognise the arrogance in giving it, when I never ask for help
I spend my life creating spaces for others to create in
while muttering words I condemn in others: ‘I don’t feel creative’
You’ll never see me perform poetry that I haven’t memorised
yet I’ll clap the loudest for the shaky ones who share their ‘just scribbled’ lines
So, may this confession be more than another performance
May it hold the confessional characteristic of being transformative
May I step down off the pedestals I built for my ego
May I treat me the same way I try to treat other people