This post was written by Elshaima Omran and Stacie Evans, a mentee-mentor pair in our Writing & Mentoring Program, who performed at the first reading in our 2014 CHAPTERS Reading Series.
SHAIMA: At school, I was really excited to read. And then on the train, I was listening to music, and I was really excited to go to Scholastic. But then when I entered, I was nervous.
STACIE: I was excited, too, but I was really nervous. I had just finished revising the piece I was going to read, and I hadn’t had a chance to practice it.
Stacie and I always talk about culture, family and friends. So we were talking about experiences about fake friends, and we decided to write a piece together. We talked about bad friendships as a teenager and when you’re an adult.
In the end, Shaima wrote a poem, and I wrote a piece of memoir. We wrote about the same topic, and it was interesting to me to see how similar our feelings were.
At the Slam Poetry workshop, I wrote a poem for the first time.
And it was fabulous
I was inspired by Stacie because she told me I was good at poetry, but I had never written poetry before.
But I just knew that Shaima had a very poetic way of expressing herself, and that she would be a good poet.
When I went to the CHAPTERS rehearsals, and they chose me to go first, I was really nervous to go in front of the people. But it went well, and it was good.
Shaima was braver than I was. I didn’t read at the first rehearsal, because I was too shy to read my piece.
But it was awesome.
But it was very personal, and I wasn’t sure how people would respond.
At 6pm on March 21st, Stacie and I were sitting in the front row at Scholastic. People started coming in. I became more nervous than before.
Our nervousness was not helped by the photographer, who took so many photos! I was nervous, but I was also excited to read with Shaima and all of the other young women and mentors. I knew some of the pieces already from rehearsals, but some would be brand new to me, and I couldn’t wait to hear them.
I went on stage. I looked at all the people sitting there. The light was close, so I couldn’t really see their faces. And that was really helpful because I thought that none of those people were looking at me. I remembered what Stacie told me: to speak loud and clearly, and say, “I can do it!” Then I read my piece with real feelings that came from my heart.
Shaima read so well. The best I’d ever heard her read that poem. She sounded confident and strong, and her voice was so clear and expressive. Meanwhile, I was getting even more nervous because she was reading so beautifully and I didn’t want to mess it up!
But you didn’t. You did a great job.
When we finished, I felt relaxed, not nervous any more… and I also felt that I wanted to go again!
That’s one of my favorite things about reading. I’m always crazy-nervous, but then so happy when it’s done, and I can’t wait to go again.
That was my first time to read in front of people and read something I wrote myself.
But it won’t be the last!
- Elshaima and Stacie were joined by Guest Author Amy Fusselman at our first CHAPTERS reading for 2014 — check out what Amy’s experience was like!
- CHAPTERS is only just getting started — there’s three more opportunities to see the next generation of women writers step up to the mic. Join us April 25 with Farai Chideya, May 30 with Ana Castillo, and June 25 with Christina Baker Kline.