So, one minute I'm sitting at a table, blithely chatting away with an open mike emcee, and the next, as I approach that mike, a switch is abruptly thrown: my cheeks get warm, my hands begin to tremble, and I go every shade of uncontrollably shy.
So, what exactly is "Stage Fright?" How does one deal with it? The only person I have ever know who, by his own admission, is complete immune to it, is a brilliant comedian named Kevin Pollak.
From early childhood, Kevin performed freely, for family and friends, at every opportunity. For him, being the comic focus of everyone's attention comes easily. This is not yet the case for me.
However, I'm finding that it is not the time at the podium that brings out my bashful side, but the approach to that spot in the spotlight. Once I'm there, and reading aloud, I relax into the poem in hand.
Ah, but then there's the return trip, back through the room, to retake my seat. That bit is a little easier. Once I'm sitting and watching, willing my nerves to settle, I become my old gregarious self again.
In just about any other situation involving people, I have no qualms, at all. I love social interactions, where we are all evenly situated on the floor. What am I missing here?
Well, I've been giving this a long hard think, and I have made up my mind to make myself enjoy, actually enjoy, approaching the mike, reading my poems to the ready crowd, and sitting back down.
As I work my way forward, past anticipatory dread and self-doubt, I'll make note of my progress here. If nothing else, it might prove to be good fodder for a new poem, but I'd much rather just win this thing.