You are a poet on stage, digging words from the depth of your soul, letting them out layer after layer, hitting new realities into the thinking dimensions of your audience. You pause for a while and scan a section of your audience. At first it doesn’t surprise you; maybe the guy looking down on his phone, fingers busy will be booted if he doesn’t reply to his girlfriend’s message immediately. You have been there too, and you understand the situation perfectly well. You move your eyes across the rest of the audience and notice two or three more guys huddled over their phones. One of them mumbles something to their neighbor. You try to catch what they are saying, maybe it is important, maybe it could have the answers to the many questions you are having now. But it is only a whisper, and you are no lip reader.
You try to raise your voice in order to have the attention of the distracted, but it becomes disheartening to watch them engage more in their illicit activities. At this point, you are about to turn away and concentrate on the audience that is willing to be fed, those who think you are worthy of their ears. That’s when you notice poet X, a big name in the industry, whispering to his neighbor. Your knees weaken, they wobble, but gravity refuses to pull you to the ground; it is not time for prayers, at least not yet. You are about to poop on yourself, but then you remember you have no diapers. Your funeral ought to be held here, were it not for your audience that comes to your rescue.
It encourages you with snaps. Their thumbs violently connect with other two fingers and sparks fires in your heart. The lion in you awakens and you remember who you are. You give your deserving audience what it deserves. It amazes you how the words come out, connecting with the thirsty audience. Soon you are through. You get a loud applause. The event organizer is smiling and that assures you of your fare home. Some guys give you a standing ovation, and you bow in appreciation. You are shocked to find two of the guys who were busy with their phones earlier now standing. Clapping. You smile and walk down the stage, but your soul pesters you with so many questions.
Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?????
These questions are not to be answered soon.
You walk down the stage after a great performance but your head hangs low.
“Did those guys pay more than the rest of the audience?” You ask yourself.
You decide to go sit next to the noisemakers. Maybe they might be having the answers.
“Awesome performance bro.” One of them turns and gives you a man hug, his phone still in his hands.
You are about to ask him why he wasn’t born with four legs and no hands to hug you. Or better still, without a brain to understand your words.
But the next poet is already on stage, and you don’t want to be a jackass to your fellow brother/sister. So you sit down and listen. The performance is awe-inspiring and your soul is blessed, questions forgotten. You go home a happy person.
But the devil is real guys. The devil is real.
You awaken early the next morning still in your boxers, face your image in a body length mirror, try to better your art for the next event. After a few rounds you remember to check on facebook, expecting lots of photos and congratulatory messages on the previous performance. A post from great Poet X is attracting many likes and comments. One look at it, and you freeze.
‘What is that thing they do on stage? Calling it spoken word? For who? For what? Mediocre!!! Mediocre art everywhere.’
Your comments come in torrents, wild punches from Pacquiao.
Which spoken word piece are you speaking about?
Is it my piece?
Could you point out the mistakes?
But all Mayweather big poet X does is hide behind the referees (fellow big names in the industry), avoiding, covering their faces, and going under the ropes, yet getting all the victory on their facebook posts.
“Is this what mentorship is all about?”
You wonder as you go back to the mirror, practice, this time adding some rhythmic punches that you plan to use next time you meet big poet X.
Later, you think of calling your nursery school teacher and connecting her to some people who might need lessons on how to nurture talents.
Big up to any poet who graces the stage, big or small, known and unknown, young or old. As Theodore Roosevelt put it:
‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’