Open mics are classically full of awkward moments. This was no exception. But it was kind of delicious in those moments. So raw and innocent.
A few graduate student poets stood up and read their work. One even sang a song. I got up and read the first few pages of the novel that keeps getting rejected. In the middle of my reading, I gazed up and saw a sea of new people, first five, then ten, then twenty of them. I started feeling nervous. My voice even quivered as I read.
Two guys went up after me and sang a Ramones song. A girl got up and read a poem she'd written on the car ride home from snowboarding earlier in the day. It was really, really good. Another guy got up and started beat-boxing while his friend free-styled. More poems. More stories.
Then the snowboarder girl got back up and said she loved going to a cafe in Boyle Heights and writing poetry in her free time, and once, as the place was closing for the evening, a bunch of people writing there moved outside and started making up poems - one would start while another took over. She said it was the most amazing experience. She said she'd like to recreate it and invited anyone up to the mic with her. I was intrigued - tempted, even, but in the group were old students and I felt self-conscious. A graduate student finally joined her and together they improved poems - each more magical and brilliant than the next. My jaw was agape. My skin tingled. I knew I was in the presence of art - real art.
Sometimes it's daunting how everyone seems to want to write, but in a world that shakes violently on its own terms and unleashes a fury of tidal waves - insult on top of injury - what's the harm in trying to put one word in front of the other and then arranging it on your own terms until it is good, then better, then best?