We all have moments where everything changes.
Even though change is usually a gradual, invisible process, I’m sure that everybody, no matter who you are, has days in their lives that they can look backwards at and say, “That was the day that everything changed for me.”
I had one of those days my freshman year of college, when I went to a show put on by Andrea Gibson and Buddy Wakefield, two spoken word poets. Up until this point in my life, though I was fairly well read, the only poetry I was aware of was the crusty old stuff, like Shakespeare and Donne. Which is nice, but sort of dated. Then I heard Buddy and Andrea1, and in one night, my whole concept of how writers can use language to evoke emotion changed. Everything I knew about words and poetry and emotion and how I moved in the world was turned totally around. It was an outstanding and spiritual and earth-shattering night that left a life-long impression on me.
Since then, I have been a fairly dedicated groupie of both Buddy and Andrea. Through the two of them, I discovered a lot of other remarkable poets, like Anis Mojgani, Taylor Mali2, and Jeanann Verlee, as well as the tiny indie press that publishes all of them, Write Bloody. So last night, when Write Bloody did a show featuring almost twenty of their poets in Boston, I lined up in the cold for tickets, squished myself into the back corner of a Back Bay church, and stood up for three hours to hear them perform3.
And the show was pretty darn outstanding, as I knew it would be. But the thing that impressed me the most about the evening was the experience of watching people’s dreams come true in real-time. This is one of the largest events Write Bloody has ever done, and when the founder introduced the show, the first thing he said was, “It has taken us so many shows at so many sh*tty coffee shops to get here.” But here they were. Everyone that performed was so genuinely passionate, so genuinely chuffed to be there, and just so darn giving of what they had. Writing is an amazing and intimate thing, where you share things about yourself with strangers that you wouldn’t tell your closest friends. It’s a process of giving yourself away. And everyone who performed was so giving, and what they had to give was so infectiously good. It made me want to run home and write, write, write, and go passionately and boldly in the direction of my own dreams in the hopes that someday, I would graduate from the sh*tty coffee shops of rejection and ascend into something this extraordinary.
It really excites me to see passionate people going out into the world, working hard, and then getting somewhere because of that dedication. It gives me a wild sort of hope that the same thing will happen to me if I keep pressing forward.
Thank you, Write Bloody, for an extraordinary show. You have a life-long fan in me.
- I’m fairly certain they’d both be horrified if I called them “Mr. Wakefield and Ms. Gibson,” so I’m sticking with Buddy and Andrea. Also – here are links to two of their poems, if you’re interested: Andrea / Buddy
- If you are/want to be/will be a teacher, you need to hear this poem. Though warning for all you conservative readers—there is mild profanity. And lots of passion. Don’t watch if you can’t handle those things.
- It should be noted, I stood up for three hours after dancing for two hours previous to that. My legs are punishing me for that today.