In the writing group I attend I’m often fine with reading first. I sign up as number one to get it out of the way. Then I get into a corner of a nondescript world and I read. I have trouble reading the way I would in private. There are different ways of reading for me, and once I’m done with my piece, I’m often lighter and I stay there, seated, and wait for the responses. In my group you’ll get critiques or comments and I find it’s probably hard for people to say much about my writing. I think it’s something people find strangely personal. And it’s always poetry. I’ve thought of trying to write a book but all I have are non concrete ideas that seem impossible to use in a story. A story should be simple aye? Not packed with characters? Characters all of equal interest that can stay in their own novel or two? Whatever it is I stick to poetry because it’s my default. I’ve been writing poetry before I really knew what poetry was. I’ve been writing since I was in elementary school. Even then teachers thought I was troubled because of what I wrote. I probably am. I’m not the friendliest person but what I write is authentic and I try to be as honest as possible. I feel as though it’s an ongoing project of mine to be as vulnerable as possible without shattering.

Anyway I read my poetry in my group and I ‘ve read it at my school’s creative writing club. I’ve also read it at my school’s poetry slam and at a reading for the school’s literary journal, but most recently I started at the Open Mic Women/Trans Poetry Slam at the Bluestocking Bookstore last week. After reading my two poems I felt dizzy and like I was going to fall over. It happens whenever I’m standing and reading. I don’t really look up at people and I have this natural fear of crowds, especially their eyes. It consumes me so that when I’m able to look at my surroundings I feel like I’ve been locked in some sort of shell and everything is appearing to me in flashing glimpses with too much color and too much contrast. I just feel weird. Completely and utterly weird. I nearly keeled over. I need to work with pacing myself because otherwise I think I zone in on the work and don’t think of the performance aspect or the breathing aspect either. I just read and try not to collapse and fidget out of stage fright.<p>

And yet sitting down and reading for my writing group or writing club is fine. It’s standing. Being stared at. With no crutch, just a mic and a paper. I need to learn how to take that and think of it as a weapon.


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