Last night's poetry open mic was so warm and, for a first go-round, well attended, with nine readers and 15 in attendance. The group was so vulnerable and encouraging, and two people read who hadn't planned on it! Two others were first-time readers. This made me proud. I want to create and sustain an atmosphere around writing that isn't so twee.
And wow, some good poems/readings, too! Emma and Jamie were true wonders, and then a woman got up and read some Wendell Berry and casually mentioned that he's served as her "mentor" since 1974. I quoted her the last line from Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front: "Practice resurrection." I keep this taped to my telephone cradle in my office at Rutgers. This is my bid to see people anew with each encounter, especially imperious faculty members.
I'm not sure that it's working, but I hope that these two words seep into my life somehow, that I get up off the floor in the wake of another bad headache, that I trudge to work as I need to, that I give myself a hand, a few precious drops of compassion when I just want to hurt myself or sneer at myself, which, let's face it, I've practiced, nearly every day, for 51 years.
I want to practice compassion, I want to practice saying "fuck off," which is its own form of compassion, I want to practice writing, I want to practice not making this all such a big deal. I want to take my own advice, the advice I believed as I doled it out to others at that microphone last night.
I want to do it again. And Again. Facilitate. Protect. Nurture.
Yea for all the women who boldly read, for Lindsay and Bernadette and Jamie and Faith and Nicole and Emma and Noella (who said so matter-of-factly that she wasn't "normal"! Blasted word. Sick, twisted word, nearly as misused as "love" and "soul" and "awesome" and "Jesus"), and Khadijah. Thank you for the words of Lucille Clifton and Dr. Maya Angelou and Bill Collins, for words birthed in dark and lonely places and then brought to the light on a Friday evening in High Bridge, NJ.
Grace and grateful. A Thin Place, indeed.