Monday, June 1, 2009

Poetry Night in Cuenca

On Saturday, after a relaxing afternoon of playing Frisbee in the park, I was invited by my friends to attend a poetry night at one of the other English teachers' house. This was going to be the 5th time they would have it, but it was the first I'd heard of it, and since I had nothing else planned and it sounded like it'd be fun, I readily agreed to attend. I was told that you had to have a poem, but not everyone read. And since I don't really write poetry, I had to come up with something else.

Pressed on time, I simply took the last blog I wrote about playing too much Solitaire. I was told to be there at 8:30, and of course I was the first person there. Even though it was a mix of Ecuadorians and foreigners, people still showed up as they pleased. Somehow I just can't turn off my American culture and can't arrive late for anything, even when I try.

People prepared food and brought lots of beer and wine. There were a bunch of people ready to read either poems they'd written or poems that they'd enjoyed reading from another poet. After a while we got underway with the poetry and listened quietly as people read. I was up on the list and realized that I was feeling pretty nervous. Though I speak in front of classes every week day, I never get nervous. Aside from the first week or so, I've been fine with public speaking. I thought it was something that was covered once you learned to teach to new classes so frequently.

But I was surprised to see my hands shaking a bit as I held the paper with my own words on it. Something about speaking to people who probably don't understand most of what you're saying makes you more confident. But reading to people who understand every word and the fact that it's your own work makes it more personal, obviously, and was a bit harder. But other than the hands shaking, I was fine. I still needed a little support from the wine box.

I read the blog about playing Solitaire way too much, and though it was obviously not poetry, but rather a short essay, it was well received. People even laughed at a few parts where I would have hoped for the reader or listener to. It was relieving to finally finish it up and sit down. Reading your own work aloud is no small feat. The night went on and I read another very short piece by Ernest Hemingway. Some people sang some songs and read more poetry, and before we knew it the night was winding down around 1 am.

The first poetry night I'd taken part in was successful and fun. Hopefully there will be more of them to come. After drinking so much wine, my Sunday was pretty hungover and tired. I was going to stay in bed most of the day, but my friend Andres called me to go make Ceviche and check out his art studio. We never actually made the Ceviche, but we hung out at his studio with another friend, Cristian, and later on a few other people came over to my house to watch "Forrest Gump," something that we'd been talking about doing for a while. A few of the people who had been at the poetry night asked me how many games of Solitaire I'd played that day. At least they were listening.

And now it's June, and another week has started, this time with all of my classes. But it will be a shorter week, as I'm headed up to Quito on Thursday for a conference from my program. I'll be there until Sunday, and after the conference ends I'm running in a 15k, then catching a flight home. So I have to finish with a decent time or I could miss my flight. That's my motivation.

I think it's funny to note now that I've been in Ecuador for 9 months. So in the time that I've been down here a whole batch of babies have been conceived and born. Needless to say, life goes on whether you're living in your country of birth or not. May was kind of a lousy month here, and I'm hoping that June can make up for it.

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