Thankful Thursday - Olympia Poetry Network & Their Reading Series at Traditions Cafe in Olympia, WA

The only photo I took at the reading- Washington State Capitol in background

Good morning creative people.  I returned from an amazing poetry reading last night.  

When I arrived at the reading a woman was setting up a large tv camera, apparently, it had been learned early in the day that the reading would be filmed and aired on cable access.  The hosts of the reading were incredibly kind in making sure that I was comfortable with this and if I wasn't, they wouldn't film it. The Olympia Poetry Network was hosting the reading at a funky cafe called Traditions on the corner across from the Washington State capitol building (see photo above).    

And while the large camera and lights surprised me, here's the weird thing --  I wasn't nervous.  Not even while drinking only water (yes, I know sometimes readers have a glass of wine to calm the nerves, but we were in a cafe with only herbal tea options).  But I didn't have that weird stomach knot feeling or flushing that will sometimes come over me in larger events where someone is taping or it's an important venue.

The fact I wasn't nervous at all knowing that I was going to be on television kind of freaked me out.  I almost wanted to be nervous (note: this is a comment on how sometimes our neuroses are a comfort to us ) and couldn't figure out why I wasn't.  I knew when the reading appeared on TV that I would/will dorky and uncool.  I am definitely not the hip Olena Kalytiak Davis type poet, ready to smoke a cigarette on stage in my tight jeans, long straight hair and attitude.  While I did wear black boots, I also wore my glasses and my hair in a bob. Maybe I've come to peace with my dorkiness and just embraced it?  

Or maybe I've come to the realization that it's not about me, but the poems.  I'm just the speaker, the reading is about the poems and about poetry.  I just happen to the human form up there speaking them.  

I guess too, the older I get the less I care what anyone thinks about me as well.  A younger Kelli would have been concerned "how she appeared" -- this is different than "how she looked"-- how she appeared played into my youthful belief that I could actually shape the way people saw me.  If I did, said, and acted the "right" way people would not only like me but I think I was cool, popular, someone-who-has-things-going-on. (Um, all things I am not).  Appearances are frightening tiring to keep up.

My older Kelli self realizes that while she looks better in lipstick, she's just herself-- she sometimes messes up a word when reading, she is not the prettiest, hippest, or coolest one, she has problems eating salad (especially when the lettuce leaves are too big), while you think she is looking out into the world daydreaming about what poems she's going to write she is mostly likely thinking about her golden retriever and planning her night around him.

I guess the older I've become the less I feel I need to change who I am to fit in.  And while I wish someone would have told this to my 16 year old girl self, I think sometimes you have to live through something to learn it.

So I read my poems, met some people, and signed my books.  The energy of the place was wonderful.  The audience was many and kind.  And I still can't believe I wasn't nervous, maybe I'm getting comfortable with new habits-- not being nervous, not worrying about fitting into a group-but belonging to it (there's a difference), and just realizing like Popeye, I am who I am.

Anyway, I'm thankful for this reading and all the lessons that came with it.
It was one of my favorite poetry readings I had in a long time.


  1. Congratulations on a successful reading.

    I think when you're confident that what you're reading is good, you aren't nervous.

    I also wrote today about my reading Tuesday evening at an art gallery in Glen Echo, Maryland.

  2. Included below is the text of a Press Release on the North Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council's Poetry Competition Fundraiser. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit. Please help us help our community by spreading the word!

    Susan Warner



    North Coast Resource Conservation &

    Development Council (NCRC&DC)

    P.O. Box 2510

    Mendocino, CA 95460

    Phone 707-937-4535/FAX 707-937-3146


    The North Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council (Council) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, and Marin Counties. Founded as a grassroots organization in 2003 to support sustainable agriculture and resource use the Council has worked on local projects ranging from constructing rainwater collection systems at local schools such as providing the catchment tank for the Fort Bragg High School Learning Garden rainwater collection system and funding a pollinator planting at Salmon Creek School in Occidental, with native species for pollinator use. The Council has held educational workshops throughout Sonoma and Lake Counties with landowners to increase pollinator habitat, helped create and expand community gardens, educate landowners to prevent the spread of Sudden Oak Disease, prepare detailed feasibility studies for biomass-to-energy production in Fort Bragg and the Mendocino County area, and conducted workshops with ranchers and farmers interested in adding an agri-tourism element to their operations.

    This year we are holding a fundraiser for our organization: The First Annual Cultivating Commerce Poetry Competition with the themes of Agriculture and Natural Resources, including farm and ranching life. Submission fees are $10 per poem, and the First Prize is $100. The proceeds from this competition will be used to further our mission working with improving pollinator habitat, enhancing agri-tourism, supporting eat local/grow local gardens, and fostering sustainable biomass energy production. In addition, the funds will be used for the new initiative Cultivating Commerce which will provide entrepreneur support for business start-up or expansion in agricultural and natural resource areas.

    Poems of any length and style may be submitted, and contestants may submit an unlimited number of poems. The competition ends September 30th, and complete contest rules can be found on our website at


  3. Congratulations!

    I enjoy your flip from present to past when it comes to appearances--confidence.

    I'm glad to hear the reading went well.


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