Words by Sil

There is something invigorating about reading poetry to an audience for the first time. As I discovered at the Dan, it’s like taking a plunge into freezing water. It’s nerve wracking. But what is so invigorating about it is the sense of accomplishment after you’ve finished reading out your piece and come to realise that, even though you felt like your piece was bad, you’re reading to a room full of like minded people, some of whom are probably just as nervous as you. And in some cases, likely just as mad.

This is what I discovered at the Dan. The first time I had ever been to a poetry reading, on the 7th of February, was a competition organised monthly by the Dan Poets who run weekly poetry gigs at The Dan O’Connell Hotel. It was sincerely the most unexpected experience I’ve had in meeting with like-minded people. Hosted by Libby, the group consists of authors from many walks of life. Some of them already published authors (A couple proudly read books they had just printed), while others, much like myself, were shut away writers who had decided to take the leap.

If someone who writes poetry were looking for a warm welcome, I’d highly recommend this meeting. No sooner had I walked in the door, I was met gleefully. (The fact that first timers get a free drink played no role… Ok, maybe a little). The readings themselves were fantastic; there was no holding back or no mind for what content was in the poetry. Some of it was quite comedic. All in all, most people had a lot of fun in their writing and the reactions they received.

Of course, when it came time for me to read, it really did feel like plunging into freezing water. I did have to inform the audience that I might stumble. And one point, I thought my leg would give out, considering how violently it was shaking. But I stood and read with confidence, met greatly with applause. The invigorating factor, for me, came in when people came to me and commented on what I had written. It was at that moment that I knew most of these people knew exactly how I felt, both in terms of an artist sharing their work (Because we’re all our biggest critics, right?) and being a first time reader.

All things considered, if advising someone who wants to attend such an event and has never done so, I can only be blunt: do it. You can learn a lot about where writing can take you, make new friends, and form new connections. Pessimism and negative thinking are left at the door, and you’re amongst people who genuinely want to know what you have to say, and what you will express in your reading. You also get a free drink on your first visit. (But really, that plays no part in the decision right? Right??

SavedPictureMy name is Sil, currently living in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. I started writing when I was 11 years old. No one theme is constant for me. I draw influence from many sources; some of the music I listen to and books (Especially Tolkien). My first time ever reading poetry was at the Dan, but I have a background in acting and music.

Benjamin Solah

Benjamin Solah

Benjamin Solah is a writer, poet, spoken word artist, activist and the Director of Melbourne Spoken Word. He grew up in Western Sydney before calling Melbourne home in 2008, where he's performed since 2010 around Melbourne's regular spoken word and poetry nights including Passionate Tongues, The Dan Poets, Voices in the Attic and House of Bricks as well as the NGV and White Night. He's released a chapbook, broken bodies, and two spoken word albums, Duel Power with Santo Cazzati and The World Doesn't Make Sense EP.
Benjamin Solah

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