On the spring semester of my first year in Juilliard Drama, a number of us from Group 48 together with our Poetry teacher went together on the 72nd stop to ride the 2 train to 14 St. and back up the 72nd stop to do some Public Poetry.
We positioned ourselves randomly on a subway cart and one by one, we shared a poem out loud, to the people on the subway cart we picked. I shared Sonnet 76 by Shakespeare.
Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods, and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?
O! know sweet love I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument;
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent:
For as the sun is daily new and old,
So is my love still telling what is told.
It is a distinct experience sharing poetry on a subway as compared to doing a scene in front of people or performing in a play onstage. The vulnerability on a subway cart is unique in the sense that I had no makeup or costume to “hide” from. It was just myself, my poem and the people on the subway cart up close. I can see their level of engagement, when I am getting through, to which people I am getting through and those to whom I am not getting through. The inhalation that comes with the decision, “I am going next with my poem!” is followed by a huge wave that sends me to start the poem and which will see me through the end. And after I’ve shared the poem I become amongst the subway passengers again, instead of an actor going backstage waiting to be congratulated or greeted by my audience.
REGINA DE VERA