So last night (This was supposed to go up yesterday, but I had problems posting.) was the big night. I mean, it's not like I haven't done it before. I was all into the coffeehouse circuit during the 90s resurgence in Baltimore and cut my teeth during open mic nights. Lately, I've had opportunities to read in support of the writing workshops I've participated in with the Creative Alliance; and most recently, I've been featured in readings promoting the Freshly Squeezed anthology which published the first chapter of my novel-in-edit, Forever, Lilith.
But last evening was different. I wasn't limited to something I wrote in workshop, nor to Lilith which, quite honestly, I'm a bit tired of by now. For the first time in a long time I had the freedom to read what I wanted. More than that, the atmosphere was different. This was a crowd that was there to hear literature, not just to support a family member's hobby or ambition. The energy was different too. The electricity in the air was palpable.
I opted to be a bit thematic. I read Bus Stop followed by a version of my blog entry What I Hope For highlighting my issues with America's Drug Policy. I followed that up with my poem, A Woman's Kiss so as not to leave the crowd on a down note. I must say, it went over quite well. Not only was the applause generous, but many members of the audience came up to me to offer a hug or a handshake and thanked me for sharing. The four other featured readers were great too, offering a wide diversity of styles and genres
After the featured readers, we opened the mic to all comers, and even that was fabulous, from a wonderful rendition of Summertime from Porgy and Bess to my friend Ron Williams' poem Emmett Till, wher he passionately relives the last five minutes of the doomed teenager's life (¡Some members of the audience were openly sobbing!). We even had a stand-up comic who just happened to be walking past, came in to see what all the fuss was about, and ended up doing a routine for the audience.
Maybe it was all the wine flowing freely throughout the evening, or the general camaraderie of the standing room only crowd, but for the two hours we were all together there was certainly a feeling over everything that I can only describe as religious. Okay, maybe sublime is a better term. Better yet—seraphic. Regardless of what term you prefer, there is no doubt in my mind that, for me, the experience was like going back to church after a long absence.