Last 12 February, evening, I had my first live poetry reading at an exhibit opening at school. The title of the exhibit was "Home Sick Home". It was put up by Asterisk, a student organization close to mine (Writers Club). Actually, I think I only got in because the VP for Academic Affairs was a good friend of mine. There were two poets: me and a man. I had an English poem and the other poet (who was much better) performed two poems in Filipino.
I don't even want to defend myself here. I really do have stage fright--- even though I wasn't standing on stage. But the peering faces straining to hear my voice was unnerving for me (there was no mike) and I think I trembled for a while. I'd done a poetry reading before, but it was a recording for a podcast. At this point, I take comfort in the fact that there are reclusive poets such a Jorge Luis Borges and, perhaps, our very own Marie La Vina, who stay within their private spaces.
Well, I do like the idea of reading a poem I wrote in front of a crowd in the hopes of getting responses from them. But I can't discount the fact that the confident and chatty Zeny of expectation is very different from the nervous and doubtful Zeny of reality.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience and am looking forward for more poetry reading opportunites in the hopes that my stage fright, through practice, will be remedied.
Here's the poem I read on that day. I hope you like it.
for the self-same portrait yet to be formed
I think of you like this:
You are seven on a summer day— a yellow dress
And brown slippers, yarn caught in your hair,
The light making its way down your shoulder, you are
Looking at your faint shadow, thinking
You’re only a half a person—
We find out that someone can have a
Heart attack during a game of charades.
Consider: what if for a moment of not speaking,
The heart suddenly is under attack, surprised but so
Pleasantly it causes not death but life?
You, a product of silence and siege,
Given a name sounding like a crease being straightened, or
If whispered, a finger stroking paper to turn a new page.
I’ve set myself to a task
Which I knew then cannot be done.
And a question that could not be answered,
I wonder how I would look in your eyes
And if you would ever forgive me.