This week I attended my first open mic poetry night in a long time. The venue was the Queens Head in Carmarthen and the event organised by Roundy House poetry magazine. Having always considered poetry to be the weakest of genres for me, I went along not entirely convinced that I would be taking part. I took a copy of my published poem ‘In his Boots’ and a few others that I felt could do with a read and some feedback. The venue was the small lounge bar area of the pub which went through into a second small room. I was startled to see a microphone in the centre of the two rooms. I have never read any of my work, at least not in the last few years, with a microphone. But here, this seemed to be the done thing. After all, poetry is and has been for centuries, all about the sound and rhythm of words. It is meant to be read aloud in its true form. Reading my work has never been a pleasure for me. Sitting alone in a room, tapping away at the keyboard for hours, creating a world and characters…. that is the best part about being a writer. Presenting your work to the world? That is the part that is most terrifying for me.
So I watched slightly jittery as my name was added to the list, admiring my friend whose excitement was barely containable as she bounced up to the microphone and read some of her very first poems. I sat and listened to a variety of work; from a very real version of a llandovery town – read by a man who’s voice and passion reminded me of Dylan Thomas; to a stunning picture of the Welsh landscape in a poem called ‘meteor showers’ by a Roundy House poet and a humorous look at Britain’s ‘bargain’ culture in a poem called ‘buy one get one free’. The thing that stood put about the evening was not just the wide range of talent on show but also the friendliness and support of the group. Speaking to some of the members, who regularly meet once a month at the venue, i discovered that they came from a wide range of backgrounds and areas. But they were all here for one thing; to share their love of the written word. To either listen or to contribute. There were also familiar faces such as Robert Nisbet and Phil Caradice (Roundy House) who read their work during the course of the evening.
As the evening began to draw to a close, my name was finally called and I took my place at the mic. Looking out into the sea of unfamiliar faces, I felt the unforgettable mix of fear and adrenaline. There’s something about reading your work that makes you vulnerable; you are essentially opening your heart to an audience. For me, writing tells people so much about you, it comes from deep inside somewhere. So, with a slightly shaky voice I began to read – my words; words that I had so carefully crafted together for the page. And it felt, after a while, quite liberating. For those few moments, I was living the dream. Ladies and gentlemen, I was back!