Recently I slammed my very first poem. For years I’ve written my own poetry, but before now I’ve never had the guts to step into the spotlight. Why? Because I’m not a performer. I’m a steadfast behind-the-scenes kind of guy. What actors do terrifies me.
For anyone that’s ever seen slam poetry (live, on the internet, or any other means) knows that it’s powerful material. The poems are more than just read on stage; they are performed. It’s an entirely different genre of art. I’ve witnessed slam poems that will make you laugh until you fall out of your seat, weep like a child, or raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
However, I’d like to take a break from the viewers experience and give some insight from the poet’s perspective.
Again, I am not a performer in any sense of the word. So, for me, stepping on stage is beyond nerve-wracking. I expected to fall flat on my face, stumble over all of my words or choke completely. Yet, I stood there, solo on stage, ready to speak.
I prepare to recite my poem and the audience goes dead silent. My right leg started to shake uncontrollably and for a second I started to get into my own head and think: “Oh man, they’re not having an emotional response, I’m doing this all wrong.” But I remembered the words of my good friend and colleague, Sinjin Jones. While I was working on the performance aspect of my piece, Sinjin repeatedly told me: “You have to believe in what you’re saying, so that the audience believes it.”
Now that concept may seem simple, but when you’re standing solo on stage staring at a sea of indistinguishable faces, you just might forget to believe in what you’ve written. The trick is to give such an honest performance that you bring the audience members back to that moment in time when you were writing the piece.
In response, the nano-second before the first word left my lips, I just started believing. I believed every word I said and the audience did, too. Suddenly, I was truly enveloped in this persona of confidence, energy, and fearlessness. I’m not an actor by any means. Yet, slam poetry is a creative outlet for me to, if even for a second, become someone else and live in another moment.
Never in my life have I spoken with such passion and every word I delivered felt powerful. And for those 2 minutes and 45 seconds I had a presence. A presence outside of my normal life where I’m seemingly just going through the motions. When I’m not on stage, I’m extremely nonchalant, so understandably it was a shock to the viewers and myself to transform into a tornado of raw words and emotion at the drop of a dime.
I finished my poem and the deafening quiet switched to uproar and applause and I couldn’t help but feel proud. Proud that I stepped outside of myself and explored a new avenue of expression. Proud that I performed something honestly for the first time. And proud that I was able to keep my breakfast down and that my right leg eventually stopped shaking uncontrollably.
With a specialty in lighting and graphic design, Bryan aims to blend his artistic passions together in a seamless manner. His experience in graphic design includes traditional print (newspaper/magazine layout), brand identity/logo design and expressive typography with his latest venture being motion graphics. He’s always trying to find a way to connect the dots between his passions—something says he just might find a way.