the fruit of courage

On Monday I delivered my very first spoken word poetry performance at the local pub’s fortnightly meeting of Passionate Tongues. I think it’s fair to say I’ve been on a natural high ever since. That I had the courage to stand on a stage in front of many dozens of people and share my words is a concept that’s hard to fathom. It’s not that I wasn’t scared; I was freaking terrified. But I’d told myself this was something I could do and I needed to know that I was right.

‘I’m new to Melbourne; fresh from Newcastle, NSW’ I told an audience of raised eyebrows. ‘If you’ve never been, it’s the kind of place where if you write poetry, you mainly keep it to yourself.’ Back when I was at university, I wrote a lot of poetry. I enjoyed the way you could be sparing with your words yet still say so much. But after being awarded a measly credit by my creative writing teacher, I decided poetry clearly wasn’t my calling and turned to wordier varieties of self expression. Nevertheless, poetry has remained a guilty pleasure, and when I discovered that Melbourne was home to so many awesome poets, my excitement was tangible.

I was the tenth speaker on the open microphone, which meant I was beckoned after the stage had been warmed by feature poet Skye Loneragan and several other established writers. After a weekend of nervous anticipation, suddenly all eyes were on me. To my complete surprise, I remembered all my words and performed two poems entirely from memory. When I finished, the room began to applaud and I was consumed by an absolute euphoria. I felt as if I was on fire. Members of the audience and fellow poets were patting me on the back, praising my efforts; it was the best feeling I have ever had.

My personal pride at this achievement goes beyond being happy that I was able to perform for a crowded room. Since ever I was a kid, I’ve been afraid of letting people see me; ignored the pilot light burning within and it’s longing to catch aflame. All my life I’ve allowed insecurities to govern my actions and struggled with an inability to show others my whole self. Now I see exactly how limiting this has been.

After performing my poetry for a full bar, I’m pretty sure I can do anything. I’m no longer willing to keep a leash on my hopes and dreams, withholding that buzz for fear of failure. I’ve tasted the fruit of courage; watch as I eat my fill.



12 thoughts on “the fruit of courage

  1. Poetry, a bar, and Shell. A combination of greatness. Tip top effort, ride that high and keep throwing yourself into insecurities. I’m truly enjoying these posts, it helps me feel like I’ve a connection back to Oz.

  2. “All my life I’ve allowed insecurities to govern my actions and struggled with an inability to show others my whole self. ” This is only the beginning. Keep it up and you will learn a great many things about your whole self. Congratulations!

  3. Thanks for commenting on my page today Michelle. I just read this post and I’m so happy for you! I adore spoken word and on Tuesday night was lucky enough to have seen Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye at the Malthouse. If you haven’t seen Sarah’s TED talk, it’s worth watching. She’s amazing for someone so young.

    I spent most of my life shying away from centre stage too and it’s only been in recent years that I’ve been comfortable to speak to groups (something I now love doing). I know how hard it is at first so I really take my hat off to you.

    Hopefully you will perform again some time – I’d love to be there!

    • Crazily, it was seeing Sarah and Phil Kaye last Thursday night that inspired me to have a go at spoken word (check out my last post; ‘An Uninvited House Guest’). You’re right; they’re brilliant. I’ve been watching them on YouTube for years, but I’ve only just moved to Melbourne, so I’m new to being in a place where ‘normal’ people get into this type of thing. It was such a buzz!

      Thanks so much for your support. It certainly wasn’t easy. Though like you, I think I may have caught the bug!

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  5. I’m being such a stalker, I know, but if my loitering presence and lengthy comments on your blog are freaking you out, at least take comfort in the fact that it is only because your blog is so captivating. I’m enjoying it so much that I feel compelled to read each next post–or previous post, since I’m reading it backwards.

    Personally, I’m a little freaked out myself–we have too much in common, it can’t be normal. If we lived in the same town (or country), I might have tracked you down and forced you to be my friend. No, I’m joking. Seriously. Don’t be alarmed. 😛

    I love writing poetry and performing them has always been a secret dream of mine, but I doubt I would ever do it. We do not really have much of a platform for it over here and I seriously lack the confidence. I don’t do public speaking well. It’s often a wonder to me that I can be a teacher and speak with confidence and authority to my class. I envy you and greatly admire you for having that courage and taking a chance on it. I would have loved to see you perform your poems; you didn’t perhaps record them, did you?

    Also, I love Sarah Kay! She is one of my favourite poets. She is actually one of the very first that sowed in me the love and awe for spoken word poetry. Previously, I thought they just belonged on pages in my notebook. You are so fortunate to have seen her perform live! 😮

    • I’m so pleased you’re finding my blog a pleasurable place to visit! : ) You’re right; performance and teaching are two very different things! I was so sure I wouldn’t be able to succeed at the poetry; I always messed up public speaking when I was a kid. I guess it was thanks to my extra years and experiences that I was able to put nerves aside and give it my all. I’m going to stick with it and I’m excited to know I can only get better. Unfortunately there was no recording; this time. Watch this space for news on that, though! : )

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