On Monday night of this week I was guest poet at Piranha Poetry in Stroud. It’s a monthly event run in the large room of a pub, and has a lot of space for open mic poetry, and a guest poet each month. It kicked off in January of 2018 with Adam Horovitz as guest. Since then, the guests have been people who run poetry festivals and poetry nights, winners of slams and performers who are well established in Gloucestershire. And now, me.
I don’t get out much to perform. Going to the Piranha nights every month is pretty much all the poetry performance I do. I was surprised to be asked, and really touched. I performed to a room that had quite a few previous guest poets in it – a little intimidating, but nerves did not get the better of me. It’s the calmest I’ve felt performing in a long time. I used to be very easy about being on my feet in front of an audience, but had lost that in recent years and had been finding performing a lot harder. It’s good to know I can stand up in front of people in a relaxed way again.
I know a lot of people feel that adrenaline helps with performance, but this has never been true for me. I’m better when I’m at ease. Adrenaline just makes bits of my body shake, and that’s really distracting and annoying.
The Piranha Poetry nights are open and inclusive. We get all kinds of poetry and all kinds of poets, with a range of ages and backgrounds. Some people come here to have their first try at reading in public, at the other end, we get professionals who come along when they aren’t the guest for the pleasure of joining in. It’s been a really good space for me and I’ve felt safe going along to explore and experiment.
I do better with my writing when I have someone to write for. I’ve written more poetry this year because I’ve been writing for this audience. I’ve had the opportunity to explore working with my voice, and writing material that allows me to work with my voice. I’ve grown, doing this. I’m really grateful that I have this space.