On rejecting stage fright

I thought about it briefly as I was getting ready to meet my friend Jen for the evening. I thought about it long enough to pick out a poem to read, if I did in fact pull my finger out of my ass and read that night. Mind you, it took me less than 30 seconds to figure out which poem I would read. You know, if I did read that night.

I had a particularly difficult day. Most days had been difficult leading up to that day. Most days are difficult, but you find the light1, focus just below it and you move forward. We arrived pretty early; much earlier than we needed to. Thank goodness, because we were both starving. We walked next door to a cute little restaurant called The Combine Eatery – which seems like such an awkward name, but the food and the service made up for it.

I think it really helped that I was with Jen; she’s always been someone who always accepted me for who I am, and has always been such a good friend. We arrived late, but were able to sneak a couple of seats in the back of the room while the first poet was reading from her book of poems. All the poets were lovely in their own way. Jen and I had our favourites.

It wasn’t until the second break that I told Jen I was thinking of going up. I didn’t have a reaction when I told her. That was progress. I also didn’t have a reaction when I went up to the front to sign-up. More progress. There were three people in total to sign up for the open mic component that night. I was to go last.

The first was a man who had memorized his own poem, and performed it with such conviction it could only be described as art. The second was an older lady who was part of a trio of older women who wrote poems together; she was endearing, and her poem heart-warming. Every time one of them stepped up to the microphone, my heart raced and my upper body would get really hot. I used my meditation breathing to bring my heart-rate down. It worked, temporarily, every time. More progress.

What impressed me the most was that when it was my turn to step up to the microphone, I was able to ignore the fact that my chest was burning, my heart was racing, and that my fingers were shaking so much for long enough to provide whoever was listening with a very small introduction about myself, and – better yet – to read the whole poem. It helped that the audience was kind, and that I announced that I have stage fright. It also helped that I picked a very short poem.

I’m proud of myself for being able to do that. I’m not sure how often I’ll do it, but I like the idea that maybe with enough practice I’ll actually be able to sing in public without doubting myself too.

  1. you don’t want to go blind after all[]

English Pronunciation

Katia Millar posted a link to this article on facebook and I just had to try it out but it wouldn’t be any fun if there were no witnesses.

Listen to Reggy reading “English Pronunciation” by G. Nolst Trenité

Just in case you’d rather read the words off my blog, here you are:

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

— written by G. Nolst Trenité

I made a lot of mistakes along the way but this was a lot of fun to record. I’m sure I could’ve cheated and tried again but I already got to cheat twice because people called in the middle of my first two tries.

Also, just in case you’re wondering: I was listening to Graydon James & The Young Novelists and that’s who you can hear in the background. The fan sound is from the kitchen exhaust.

If you happened to do the same and you’ve recorded yourself reading this out loud, please leave a link in the comments so I can follow along!

I’m tired of waiting

Sixteen half-written drafts
Sit, patiently, awaiting completion.
They’re far more patient
Than I; shift, move, fuss
It’s all I seem to do these days.
“Writer’s block” understates
For I have plenty to say
If only my dear friends:
Courage and conviction
Would rear their heads
And help me make this bed.

Unnecessary explanations

I wasn’t really ready,
But I had scheduled,
The previous post and forgot.

I lef it because there were,
Those who took the time to,
Comment and keep up.

But I’m not ready,
I’m still finding myself.
And I hope you’ll be here,

Whenever it is,
That I finally do
Come back.