I can’t help but find it funny that my time with the Ventura County Poetry Project is coming to an end during the season when life blooms most with newness and beginnings. Then again, maybe it’s not all as dramatic as that. Maybe that’s just my “poet” showing. In all seriousness, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time. I’ve learned a lot as a writer and poet, and what it means to be vulnerable.
I have a lot of non-poet and non-writer friends who read my writing or listen to me talk about writing, and the general response is always, “I could never do that,” and by “that” they usually mean write a poem let alone get up and read the poems out for others to hear. And honestly, I agree with them more than I like to admit. I think many people tend to shy away from poetry because of how much of yourself you have to put into it. The voluntary sacrifice of self in such an undeniably truthful medium is scary. I mean think about it, a couple of stanzas can do the same work as a surgeon: expose the heart.
But you see, that’s exactly why I love it. Yes, the vast majority of the time I feel like I’m doing it wrong. Sometimes I even wish I had picked a different outlet. But I know that’s my fear and insecurity talking because I love poetry itself and when it comes down to it I know there’s no other form of writing that could satiate me.
My favorite aspect of poetry is the way it acts as a channel for connection if you can tune in to the right wavelengths. This notion has only been solidified in my mind during these past few months of being able to work with, read for, listen to, and speak with other fellow poets. For me, the page is a confessional. So when I read my poems aloud it’s like I’ve stepped out of that private booth and into a sound booth all mic’d up, just hoping someone who understands will turn on their radio and tune in.
Fortunately for me, many people did tune in, and I was able to listen to their songs too. I was included in line-ups for important events like the VCPP’s annual Erotic Reading as well as their annual Women’s Reading. I had the honor of reading in front of and meeting California’s Poet Laureate Lee Herrick and his lovely wife, Lisa. And for the past few months, I’ve had the ultimate joy of reading at and listening in on a weekly open mic. Hell, even this poetry blog I’ve been writing has a certain poetic soul-baring aspect to it. So while these experiences have been on varying degrees of what one might call “prestige,” all of them have been so meaningful and equally significant to me. Now rather than scribbling alone in my room, too shy to admit I’m a poet, I’ve been able to own my poetry. And most importantly, I’ve been able to further explore this showcasing of tenderness and sincerity.
I want to say a proper goodbye and thank you to anyone who has been tuning in to my channel these past few months. There are so many small lives inside of this big one and I’m glad we got to intertwine ours for even this brief period. That being said, I want to thank the Ventura County Poetry Project for being so kind to me and for aiding my growth as a poet. I feel as though I’d been a seed for a while, just sitting, waiting in the darkness. My time with the VCPP has given me the strength to push through the dirt into the daylight. I’ve only just sprouted, but I think with some time I’ll be able to bloom with the rest of the world when the season is right.