Today, the final day of the Heart in Mouth Audio Poetry competition took me out to Swords (immediately after a four hour shift in work). In the Council Chambers, a room that looked way too official for me to enter in Converse and wearing (hidden under my shirt) a Giant Squid of Anger t-shirt. At around four, the wonderful duo of Dave Lordan and Karl Parkinson led some of the shortlisted poets in the competition (including yours truly) and some others that found their way into the workshop (still figuring that one out).
What did I learn? Specifically, that's too much information for a post like this. However, they covered a lot through the collected weaknesses of the group, from stance on stage, volume, pace and confidence. In a single reading (of Bottom of the Bottle), I found some extra confidence for later in the evening. But we'll get to that later.
The workshop, and the food to follow, allowed me to meet some of the other shortlisted poets, people from all walks of life. Long conversations were had about poetry and how long we've been writing and how diverse the group seemed to be. Dave and Karl got involved in the conversations (and one with the latter and a particularly vocal member of the group will stick with me!) and everyone seemed to find someone to talk to, food to eat, and a ridiculous amount of tea.
It was almost a bad idea. Almost.
Right before we began the showcase, the rest of the shortlisted poets who would be attending showed up, along with a couple of the country's finest performance poets. They missed the food, but they were still there to read.
In the end, Dave decided it would be fun to seat us in the centre of the room, surrounded by the audience, all of us in seats that we could get used to, but probably shouldn't. They were just too comfortable, and very official. Nothing like an official chair, is there?
One by one, and counter-clockwise (because anything with a counter is good, right?), we stood at what could be considered the top of the (circular) room, and read our entries. We were a nervous bunch, by and large, some of us less experienced than others, but I really think we did a good job, put on a good show, and did ourselves proud. I found a strange confidence while reading, though I became aware of my pace (too quick) and my eyes (not looking at the audience enough). I think I did alright, though, and a couple of the more experienced poets (including the eventual winner) complimented me on the poem.
So, no, I didn't win. But I didn't really think I might after hearing some of the others. I did manage to sit between the winner and one of the two runners-up, though. (It's possible they meant to sit beside each other and I got in the way, but I didn't get in the way of their conversations during the break. They were fun to listen to!)
It as a great day, really and truly, and aside from having to get a taxi home (my bank account hurts...), I wouldn't have changed a thing about it. I wouldn't even name-drop Balor Reborn to people. (Time and a place, right?) Though, maybe, I might try get more sleep the night before.