There are times where we ought to stop apologising for our mistakes. For me, those times are when I perform. On Saturday 15th April 2017, I told myself to be unapologetic and I saw the difference in me. I felt the difference in the way my words rolled off my tongue.
In my last post, I wanted to know how I would be able to get back to the place where I could feel the vibration of eardrums as my words struck them rhythmically. I guess my answer came when I got a message from Ragz on the Friday, an opportunity for poets and I said yes. I wanted that opportunity. I already had three poems under my belt, though I stumbled through one on the Wednesday and had to retrieve my phone for the rest of it. I was ready to try again. What I had not realised was, my answer was formed the minute I got in contact with Kye, the organiser of the event Ragz told me about, the opportunity for poets.
On the Saturday, I arrived and sat in an empty row. I felt my introvertedness was leaking from all pores on the surface of my skin. I kept as still as possible while refreshing my memory, running through each poem, then telling myself not to worry. I started to think about the 'what if's'. What if I messed up? What if I forgot a line? What if... What if... What if... What if I was unapologetic? Carried on through my mistakes. No-one knows the poems but me. No-one will know if I missed a line. No-one will know if I swapped lines.
Be unapologetic and continue. No time to stop and tell the audience to hold on. I needed to ensure that I continued to move. And it helped! Telling myself to be unapologetic helped me so much.
I made it through that Saturday evening. I also made it through the piece I struggled with the previous week. I made it through this Wednesday gone, 19th April. I made it through without becoming flustered for not remembering a line or making minor phonetic mistakes.
Being unapologetic has given me the strength that I've missed with performing and now I feel as though I can take on the world.
Until next time 😊
Tuesday 25th April 2017
"Do you know how sick you are?"
"I don't think you realise how dope you are."
"You are the person behind Careen, but it's almost like you don't believe you are her."
I miss the adrenaline I used to get. The rush of the emotions I told myself to believe in so that I'd be able to sell words to an audience and make them believe in the meanings. I would love to get back to the place where my soul once disappeared from the scene, and the words would escape from the partition of my lips. Pouring out oceans of thoughts, emotions, and life to the souls who were wrapped up in my performance. I miss creating a ball of energy which would stun a room into silence. But I also miss engaging them, creating goosebumps over the surface of their being.
I would like to get back to it all. However, there's this monster which picks on people, and now I am its latest victim. I once didn't have to worry about my stage presence. I had never felt as awkward as I do now. But how do I get back to that place? Constantly being forced to tear each word from my brain. Constantly being forced to put them next to me. Constantly being forced to chop my tree of confidence.
I am a constant in a never ending cycle of self-doubt. I fake confidence, but it's not being faked enough to shake self-doubt. But I'm trying. I will not stop until I get to the point where I will no longer need my phone. I will keep going beyond that, to the place where nerves fuel my adrenaline. I will fly above the streams of uncertainty to be freed from its raging ways. I will face my fears until they become my friends.
Until next time 😊
Friday 14th April 2017
*~*Photo courtesy of Poetic Unity (do check them out! Remember I told you about Ragz-CV last week?) and Visually Inspired Photography (check them out as well!)*~*
It's not the stage you should be afraid of. It's the battle between your heart and mind which should scare you the most.
The biggest difference between this week and last was how comfortable I felt. Yes I had more time to prepare the piece I did last week, but I had less time to prepare the second piece.
On Monday (3rd Apr 2017), I had the opportunity to do an interview at Shoreditch Radio with four other amazing poets and Ragz-CV who put it all together for the Poetic Unity Radio Tour. Ragz works to building a community of poets who work together instead of against each other, and may I say he is doing an exceptional job with it. I was at ease as I knew that we were all there supporting each other. There was no trace of any bad vibes and it was easy to do and say what I had to say without feeling as though judgement was being passed.
That was the first step in becoming more comfortable as a performer.
Yesterday I took another stab at it at The Poet's Corner, under Poetic Unity (held at the Black Cultural Archive in Brixton every Wednesday from 6:30-9:30pm). The same poem I did last week, "Seek Ye First The Kingdom of Marriage', at Soul Free, was one I chose to do yet again this week. Though the audience last night was mainly made of new faces, I know I was home, thus, I had no problem with trying the piece for a second time without the use of my phone.
The second piece I attempted, 'Me For Ten', I had my slip ups. They were expected. Having attempted to learn it in 2 days, I managed to get through enough of it without being covered by the invisible cloak carried by my phone. I had to make a conscious effort to work on it as a video will be done for it hopefully by the end of this month. I am really looking forward to it.
What helped the most was the conversation with Calm before the show started. His words were that "We've all messed up." It was important that we had that conversation. It helped to keep me grounded and to breathe. The ball was in my court as I allowed an audience to see me at the beginning of my journey. The beginning which is filled with mistakes and recoveries.
Thank you all for being there me as I show you my development in growth.
Until next time 😊
Thursday 6th April 2017
"Take life by the horn" were words I was told by LionHeart a week ago.
"Always walk with your cards" I was told by my friend Elle, co-founder of Twipes, on Mother's Day.
Both words of advice walk hand in hand, but who ever remembers sound advice? Clearly not me. Well, not until after that opportunity has presented itself and then walked away from me. I learnt my lesson soon after the first lost opportunity.
Tuesday 28th March:
Though I've been writing for more years than can be counted on both hands, this was the day I attended my first ever masterclass, but I call it a workshop. They are both the same right? Well, unlike attending an open mic night, where I'm usually on my own, and being extremely nervous and excited and anxious, I was neutral while on my way to this workshop. I can only guess that's because I previously met the facilitator, the one and only Dean Atta, at 'Good Times' organised by Poetic Unity.
However, though I was a soul filled with neutral energy, I still was unable to speak with anyone on my table. That is, without being instructed to have paired and group discussions. But, when asked to volunteer feedback, my lips were sealed.
Fast forward to the end of the night. Careen! Careen! Careen! WOMAN! I spoke with another poet, I told him the link to this darling website, but I didn't take his details. Why did I not ask for his details?
That's the moment I took heed to LionHeart and Elle's words of advice. Just in time for...
Thursday 30th March 2017:
First and foremost, I had fun! I enjoyed the evening. Thank you Haylee! I truly felt as though I was visiting a Jamaican friend's house. Sister Maxine really made me feel welcomed, and I'm sure everyone else felt the same.
This was the first time in the longest that I performed without using my phone. Guys, I did it! Upon completion, I deflated. Deep sigh and release.
Of course, I went alone once again, but there is definitely no harm to it. Not one that I am aware of. Just like Tuesday, I was a mute, absorbing the energies from those in my environment. I knew where I was in the running order and during the performance from the singer before me, I reached into my bag to switch my phone on. Panic was crawling around in me, but I did not yield. I left my phone where it was and when called. I went up empty handed.
Go Careen! Go Careen! Go Careen!
I believed I had it until I got to the fourth stanza of the piece. I forgot a line. This is where I started to stumble over my words. Misplace lines in the spaces of my mind. Hear the silence of my mind as I tried to desperately remember what came next. I was in panic mode but did my best not to show it. I calmly paused, got the audience to work with me as I found the lost words.
What should have been 3 minutes seems to have taken forever, and I thought it wouldn't end. However, I do feel proud that I was able to get through it. I didn't leave it without an end. I persevered.
At the end of the night, I spoke with some individuals who told congratulated me. One is a mother. She not only congratulated me on sticking with it and having the courage to continue. Words I won't ever forget, she told me, walking off stage is not only a bad look for the performer, but it leaves the audience feeling embarrassed for the performer. I was asked for my details, and I was able to hand cards out. Thanks Elle! I also approached someone who runs a music night spoke for a little while and swapped cards. Thanks LionHeart!
The night taught me yet another crucial piece of information about myself. I fear being imperfect. I want my pieces always to be delivered with perfection. That may or may not go for all or many other poets, singers, dancers, musicians, and motivational speakers. However, I am pleased I was able to learn this about myself as now it means I can turn that fear into positivity. Someway, somehow.
Nevertheless, I must say, perfection was in my performance. It wasn't in getting through the piece with no hesitation, no pauses, just as planned at home. It was in me getting to the end. Delivering. Perfection was present in my perseverance.
Learn to overcome the blocks and fears of a new room.
Until next time 😊
Friday 31st March 2017
"Careen... Relax. It went well. You'll be fine. You were fine. Just Chill. After all, it was the Chill Pill you attended. Why didn't you take one of the pills?" My brain and I have the strangest of talks, it calms me, and I freak out...
Tonight I ventured out. Went to a different venue, with different people and a different atmosphere. Did I enjoy it? Actually, I did. It was refreshing to hear different poets and even some of the big names I've heard of before.I enjoyed it. That's the truth. It's poetry. Everyone that went up, from the team to the features to the open micers, it was great.
Yes, I have just introduced you to my doubt. It may have been a half-truth shared, but that has nothing to do with performers. It was all to do with me.
I have not felt this way since 2010. The first time I had ever been to an open mic. It's the uncertainty. Not knowing how the crowd felt. The love was silent. Or maybe it was to do with me possibly shutting down and completely zoned into the words I wanted to say while on stage and the inability to keep my mind with me afterwards.
What had me feeling more like a nervous soul was, this was the one time I put myself under mental pressure. There was a poet whom I really admire there tonight. You know the folks that make you sit back and think "Wow when I grow up I want to be like you!"? Yes, that's what that poet is for me. The first time I witnessed that guy perform, I was trapped in his mind space and just in awe of him. Then I read some of his work, and it blew me away. Therefore, with all of that, I was trapped by the admiration I have for him which played on my mind.
Now I know, next time I do a reading for a new crowd, poetic icon there or not, I need to give myself the biggest boost ever before going on stage. Maybe admitting it to my audience will be a good touch also. Warm up to them. Get them to warm up to me.
However, even though I had that back and forth with my mind. Freaking out, trying to remain calm, pushing aside the mental panic attack as it arose, I did receive positive feedback from other poets/performers when the show ended. Not only were they performers, BUT, 2 of the big names in the field whom I spoke to, told me well done. Particularly with the topic I relayed, I was congratulated.
All that being said, I will be back! I've got two months to get myself into the zone, and I must take myself to as many new venues as I possibly can to get more acquainted with different audiences and atmospheres.
I have come a long way, once upon a time, the introverted characteristics of mine would not have allowed me to speak to anyone after a show. I always did my thing, enjoyed the rest to the end and then left. Now, I can go up to others, say hello and well done even in a new environment with no friends around to keep me buzzing while networking.
Until next time ☺️
Thursday 23rd March 2017.