Would you read your poem in front of an audience? How about if you’re 10 years old?
The fourth grade teacher had told us that poetry night was an evening we shouldn’t miss. The kids had prepared for quite some time and were excited, nervous, and looking forward to it. There were 60 or so of them and dressed up for the big performance. A quick calculation and this was going to be a long night if each poem was even a minute. Turns out, some were just a few lines and probably less than 15 seconds. The amount of time didn’t really matter, just being there in front of a few hundred parents, siblings, and others was the main buzz. I believe that dressing up also adds to the whole atmosphere, it makes it special unless you dress up all the time, but then maybe it wouldn’t be called dressing up, it would be getting dressed.
All of the poems were in a large book that was situated on the podium. This took some planning, but the kids sat according to the order of their poems in the book. It worked well. When each student was done, they turned the page so it would be ready for the next. Some spoke quickly and indecipherably whereas others projected well and had practiced their timing. Some read nervously and looked at the paper for every word whereas some memorized their poems and looked at the audience while reciting their work.
Each one was special in their own way. A nervous smile from a charming little girl or a knowing grin from a young performer who knew his work had heart. Many of the actual words ran together and formed not coherent stories, but it may well could have been information overload and the machine gun rapidity of the poems one after the other. It would have made a nice documentary where you could watch each one more closely and pause or even highlight certain pieces. But it won’t be a documentary, it’s just right now and I’d better pay attention tonight and listen as best I can. It’s a big night for the kids and a big night for the parents. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.