Notes from a Poetry Crowd Surfer
I had started looking into the idea of reading my poetry, however there were seemingly a few obstacles in my way. The first being my self-confidence and speech impairment, the second being I didn’t think that Coventry had a poetry scene as such and the third being I didn’t know of any accessible venue that I could get into. A friend of mine suggested Fire and Dust - a monthly poetry meet up at The Big Comfy Bookshop located inside Fargo Village in Coventry. I was very interested but I kept putting it off.
I eventually attended the August Fire and Dust, I took my friend and I loved it, the whole vibe felt very relaxed and encouraging. I didn’t really talk to anyone a part from Raef who organises the night but I was really hooked by the feeling the night gave me and I felt that I fit in with these people. I attended the next month’s event and I had a blast, still didn’t go out of my way to talk to people apart from a girl who complemented my dreads. At the end of the night I really wanted to congratulate and chat with a few of the poets and tell them I enjoyed their words but my anxiety got the better of me and I chickened out and headed to leave. However as I drove my wheelchair towards the front gate of Fargo Village I realised it had been closed and locked. I thought it was ok and I would find another exit, unfortunately I was greeted with my immortal enemy at the back entrance, steps. No not the 90’s pop act, but actual steps, leading from the back gate to the path. Unfortunately no-one had access to the key to open the front gate, but luckily for me a few of the people at Fire and Dust volunteered to lift me and my powered wheel chair down the steps. There I was hoping to go unnoticed - but I somehow crowd-surfed out of the venue! The upside to what could have been a disaster was that I got the chance to talk to a few of the guys and then later we would be conversing on social media.
In the month between the September and October Fire & Dust nights, having what I call “poetry friends” became a real revelation to me. As well as this the warmth and openness I felt at the previous two nights really encouraged me into actually wanting to share some of my poetry. However I didn’t actually make a decision until the day of the event as I thought if I made a decision too early I would back out of it. On the day of the event I was feeling good, so I messaged Raef asking if I could read that night and it was sorted. I then entered into a spiral of self-doubt and anxiety, a part of me was certain I’d open my mouth and nothing but spastic tension would be audible. That and deafening silence. Once I had agreed with Raef about reading I began texting my best friend and unofficial life coach, Katy, various versions of the phrase “what am I actually doing” to which she responded with nothing but encouragement and belief.
When I told my “poetry friends” I was reading they were all super nice and supportive, I got to the venue really early and hung out with them while I tried not to over think the situation. Fire and Dust started and I don’t remember much of the first half as I was really anxious about my reading. The Poem I read was called Someone To Fuck, I mainly picked it because of its length and the fact that I had already recorded a version of it and this meant I could listen to it over and over to help me read it correctly. The poem is basically about being used and then going on to repeat that behaviour and using someone else. When I positioned myself in front of the microphone to read, I did panic but nowhere near as much as I’d feared. I read the poem with some stammering, some words were a struggle but I did it!
I was on such a high for a few days afterwards. Poetry is 10000% my thing and once again it feels so good to be a part of this community. I really want to challenge myself and go to as many poetry nights as possible, I want to meet more poets, hear new voices and feel new rhymes.
It means a lot to me for Mike [Mike Took, WriteOutLoud Editor] to reach out and ask me to write for this site. I’m honoured by the support and for someone who has trouble with finding what I want out of life, all I can say is that I really want this, all of this. Thanks for reading!