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“AS YOU WERE!!!” Master Sgt Earl B. O’Dick

October 16, 2011

Here is something ruff-‘n’-tumble from my very first ever headline performance last Saturday, October 8, at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market (for the SOUNDS Words and Music series, 2nd Saturday of the month at 7pm).  I’ve been doing a lot of overtly political “social conscience” stuff recently, and this is the apotheosis of that.

This is what the shirts of poets look like.

My Spoken Word career has taken many turns recently.  I tried to make it as a Slammer, but I now realize that while I can indeed memorize and retain several 3-minute pieces, my ability to throw down on the day is severely hampered by my old nemesis — stress.  I can do my whole routine for friends and family, but put me up in front of an audience and I am swamped by distractions.  I did manage one very good public performance for the NDP earlier this year, but that consisted of a single piece that I had pretty much pounded into my head relentlessly, remorselessly, for weeks leading up to the rally.  I tried the same approach before the Wordstock literary festival in Collingwood this summer, and went down in flames as stuttered, stammered, and completely lost what I was trying to recite.  Right in front of John Robert Colombo and members of the Toronto Slam Team.  Bugger.

But my shrink isn’t likely to start prescribing me beta blockers, and I’m the type of guy who carries around the same level of nervousness and anxiety on a daily basis as most folks do when placed under pressure.  So I have to re-evaluate my modus operandiAsh Dickinson, I ain’t.  But I’m a damned good reader of my own stuff, and I figure it were far better this cobbler stuck to his last and did prose fiction, “page” poetry, performance art and sonic sculpture rather than straight Slam.  There will be fewer social conscience pieces, though I shall always be fiercely political.

Besides, to quote hipsters everywhere, I do have to finish that novel….

All right, then.  On to the festivities.  Thanks as always to Robert and Caroline Menzies for their work putting on SOUNDS, and of course to my homeskillet Karen Houle for the great media work.

This barrage of exasperation is pretty self-explanatory.  I might deploy the Sergeant in future exercises, but for now he has been recalled from active duty.  This was as exhausting to perform as it was to listen to.  I could barely talk the rest of the evening, and required a good pint of Creemore Springs lager to anaesthetize my very volcanic larynx.

ADVISORY: ONE HELLUVA LOT OF PROFANITY!

This piece scares even me.  You’ve been warned. 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. catherine333 permalink
    October 19, 2011 10:25 am

    So glad I got to see this “live”. The impact is even greater when heard rather than read.

  2. October 20, 2011 1:47 am

    Indeed! This ain’t my page poetry — my lyrical verse, such as this: http://www.eclectica.org/v15n3/sitoski.html

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