Saturday, October 09, 2004

Can I try that again?

Sean and Chrystalene of the West Coast Poetry Festival and Ten Dollar Words invited me to record a poem for a CD they are putting together. The spoken word artists who featured at the festival are each recording a poem. I'm very grateful to be asked, as I wasn't a feature. I did host a couple of shows, so was included on that basis.

The recordings are being made at Western Front, a really cool gallery/performance place in Vancouver. I've never been there before so it was really interesting to have a look. We recorded in a big open space, rather than a little booth, which felt good. I've been in the little booth at Co-op Radio, and it's so weird - especially the sound. The room just gobbles all of the sound before it has a chance to go anywhere. I know that's the way it's supposed to be when you are recording, but it is weird to talk in a room where invisible sound-suckers capture and devour the vibrations. I am tempted to shout, just to find out how loud it would have to be to make a lasting impression.

My husband, Andrew, came with me. That made me happy. He doesn't come to the slam partly because of the late hours. Also, the spoken word scene just isn't his thing. That's okay. We do a lot of things separately. I was glad he wanted to come this time, to hear my poems other than hollered around the house and to meet some of my poetry friends.

Anyway, I sucked at it. Totally, big-time. I know Sean and Chrystaline, and Sara, who recorded,were very kind and said I did just fine, but honestly, I was awful - forgot my words, mispronounced, ran out of breath. I stopped short of channelling Porky Pig, but I was pretty close. I couldn't figure out why it was so much more difficult than when I am on stage. I hardly ever forget my words of lose my momentum when I perform. Why was I such a vocal gimp in this new setting?

As we drove away, I figured it out. The room was set up with the microphone facing away from where the people were seated, so I could see them only out of the corner of my eye. I was staring into the flyswatter screen that goes in front of the mic, so I closed my eyes part of the time - but either way, there was nobody to look at. No contact, no response. I need to see faces because when I perform my poems I am communicating. I practise a lot on my own, but I always picture an audience. It's not enough to know people are listening. I have to see in their eyes that they hear me.

If I get a chance to do this another time, I'll know to ask someone to sit in front of me. I bet it will work. I hope I get another chance. Except for sucking big-time it was fun.

Question: Did you ever discover you couldn't do something that you thought you could do?

mompoet - breathing out

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