“JD,” PJ greeted me when he saw me near the Conspiracy bar area, “you’re next!”
I nearly threw up my dinner. I thought I was scheduled much, much later so I still have an hour to watch the other performers before I hit the stage. PJ explained the other bands have not yet arrived, so they already asked those performers who are present to go on stage earlier than scheduled.
“Oh man,” I groaned as I turned to Bern. “I need a beer.”
This was when I read for Red Alert, a music and poetry performance/fund-raiser for LGBT hate crime research, two weeks ago.
I got my usual Cervesa Negra and it was freezing. The suddenly released pressure after the bottle was opened caused the semi-frozen beer to gush out. Even before I went onstage, my beer was already coming.
Earlier, while we had dinner, I was playing with an idea for a third poem for my set. It didn’t work, so I was left with just two poems. I only met Ayi, the drummer, and Jmar, the guitarist, that same afternoon to “practice” for the evening, and it was only just then when worked out the arrangements for the accompanying music for the poem. It was great luck how Bern knows several talented musicians. (Actually, it was not so much luck; Bern used to manage a band.)
When I got onstage, more than half of my beer was gone. That was mostly because it spilled on a nearby table, leaving me with slightly sticky fingers.
The first poem was “There will be no poetry section today” by Jonar Sabilano. I knew Jonar through my old poetry group, Pinoypoets; his poem was published in the literary folio of Guniguni, another local poetry group.
“There will be no poetry…” is typical of Jonar’s poems: angry and passionate. Jmar (playing a bass guitar) and Ayi adapted Bjork’s “Hunter” to accompany the reading. I chose that particular poem to open my set partly because of its subject, and partly because of its fiery delivery. If there was one poem that could help me fight stage fright, it was that poem. I feel bad I wasn’t able to invite Jonar to see my reading of his poem.
The second poem was “Sabang”, also from the same Guniguni folio. It was one of my favorites, partly because it narrated a eyeball (EB, to you kids) between two men (I think). When I read it, I imagine the music from The Cardigan’s “Deuce” playing along: slow and languid. Jmar was able to replicate the jangly, laid-back guitar playing perfectly.
I planned to do a third poem, reading an original work, but I guess it will be some time before I could write a new poem fit to be read in public. Or write a poem at all.
But we didn’t suck. The UP SAMASKOM guys (whose performance I sadly missed) cheered me after I got off the stage; that was really sweet of them. The performance went better than I imagined. And that was the only thing I was after.