Some of the greatest writers of our time will never set foot on a stage for no reason other than that they simply cannot, no matter how hard they try, quell their anxiety long enough to perform in front of a live audience. The truth is, there is nothing more difficult for an aspiring performer than mustering the courage to walk onto a stage for the very first time and render the contents of their innermost thoughts in front of a room full of strangers.
Which, as you can surely attest, takes a lot more than just courage. It takes something greater – it takes an unwavering sense of passion, so deep-rooted that even the most potent deterrent couldn’t weed it out. It also requires a genuine, sincere love for the craft that somehow supersedes every other possible feeling the performer anticipates experiencing before, during, and even after a performance.
Still, even that may not be enough to calm the raging storm of nerves coursing through you, shaking you to your very core until… you realise the poetry scene just isn’t as judgemental a space as you might have imagined it would be and come to learn that it is quite frankly the most forgiving creative space there is. And that’s because poets don’t just want to see you succeed, they want to be part of the reason you do.
For the first-time performer having only ever written for an audience of one with no real desire or yearning inclination to share with anyone else but the reflection in the mirror, terrified over whether or not your work is good enough, ask yourself this: “If I do this, who am I doing it for?” When the answer to that question is yourself – or for those with faith-inspired motivations: God – you’ll stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. You’ll no longer concern yourself with the prospect of adulation and praise, or with judgement and a poor reception. The only thing you’ll be concerned with is your truth. And it’s only then that you’ll find the solace required to stand on that stage completely free from fear of judgement.
Written by: Liam Specer