Yesterday the sun came out for the first time in… weeks. Well, maybe not weeks, but many days have passed since the clouds have parted and we’ve seen blue and sunlight. It put me in a good place, and as I worked on a writing project at my desk in the morning, the thought began to percolate that it might be time to hit the streets again. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read outside.
So, off I headed, this time with a slight revision to my presentation style: the addition of a stand to place my poems on and a small sign (a precursor to the bigger sign I’ve ordered and which arrived today by mail from Vistaprint). The sign to announce who I am in the hopes of taking away the, “what’s-this-woman-trying-to-sell-me-anyway” aura that is faintly around me out there (my perception anyway). Rather than approach people and ask to read them a poem, I thought I’ll just set up my stand in a likely spot and begin to read. Passersby will see me and stop and listen or continue to pass by… their choice.
Only it was awkward. The walk from my truck, past the coffee shop outdoor tables to the spot I chose with music stand in hand, was awkward. The setting up of the sign and the papers and the putting on of reading glasses was awkward. Clearing my voice and beginning to read to nobody in particular was awkward. And people passing by and not stopping and not smiling was awkward. Sounds of traffic seemed louder. I fought with feelings of low self-worth and foolishness and embarrassment and I questioned my motivation, my intent, my purpose. Yes, all this was awkward. And perhaps a little foolhardy and a little dangerous???
Until a fellow with a bike stopped and listened and nodded and carried on when I was done. And another man having a cigarette hung around and asked for my card, and a woman coming out of a store came over and told me she was a poet and then waited to hear an entire poem from beginning to end. She also wanted my card. Then I wandered to another spot, read out loud to pigeons and squirrels and a mobility bus driver who hid in the bus and one lady who kept her head down and eyes averted as she walked by (did she speed up?).
OK, so those encounters were worth it, I think. Usually it’s not really about me at all, but about the bigger picture. Sharing poetry. Sharing beauty. Being open. Returning the gift. Giving thanks.
Like Bill Cosby says above, or one of my favorite old Hebrew quotations that I keep on my fridge;
“… go in the strength you have…” Judges 6:14
Still popping up, next time with my new groovy sign!