As some of you know, I did my first ever live poetry reading Saturday at the Barking Spider Tavern’s open mic, hosted by Cleveland’s own Kerouacian prince of poetry Ray McNiece and his very talented and versatile band tongue-in-groove (their music, even without words, is poetry).  Lots of other poets/performers hit the stage, too – local literary luminaries like Barry Zucker, Anita Herczog, Claire McMahon, Dianne Borsenik, Terry Provost… and I wish I could remember all the groovy people’s names.  Lots of great work… and enough to give Jesus Crisis performance anxiety.  Thank Gawd for Holy Moses Pale Ale and Geri holding my hand… lol.

Eventually, I did get up… Ray (who knew me only from MySpace) gave a rousing introduction (“Jesus in the house!”), I made a few cursory remarks about it being my first time, and then I launched into my recently-blogged poems Allen Ginsberg Wants You! and John Cage Engaged and Uncaged, with the band improvising a fantastically appropriate and inspired accompaniment.  After the first line or two, any remaining nervousness was gone and I felt like I was “in the zone.”  Even though I missed a line in “Cage,” no one seemed to notice and I ended up getting a LOT of glowing feedback.  Ray and Barry both used the word “awesome” – and even if they were just being polite to the newcomer, their kind words made me feel awesome.  Overall, I think it went wonderfully – and it seems to be leading to other opportunities.

Anyway, I later heard that the afternoon had been recorded and that some of the performances will be broadcast Wednesday (21 May 2008) on Cleveland’s WJCU radio (88.7 FM) during the “Wordplay” program.  Even if you’re not in the Cleveland area, you can listen online by going to the station’s website (http://www.wjcu.org/listen) at 12:30 (Eastern Standard Time) on Wednesday afternoon.  Since I’m a relative unknown (and the work I read was R-rated) I don’t know whether they’ll include my performance or not (obviously I hope so).  But even if they don’t, it’s worth tuning in to hear Ray McNiece and some of the others.  I’ll record it, if I can.

P.S.  I also plan to hit the open mic at the Nia Coffeehouse (1925 Coventry Rd.) tomorrow (Tuesday) between 6 and 8 p.m.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming….

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