First Poem

Last night I read one of my poems for the first time, behind a microphone, at a poetry event in downtown Des Moines. There was a large gathering, more so than I’d expected. The crowd was diverse, eclectic and punctuated with young folk, some high school age, most in their twenties and thirties. A few oldsters such as myself were in attendance. At 60, I had to wonder if I wasn’t the oldest person in the room. No matter. It was exciting to see so many young people, ardent devotees of the written and spoken word: the beauty and angst of poetry.

The readings were, in large part, tributes to the cadence of hip hop and rap, speaking universal themes of love, discovery and acceptance with a few jabs at the current administration thrown in for good measure. And while there were some very good offerings, I cannot help but wonder how these young talents might translate to broader topics, interests beyond transgender discrimination, rape culture and lesbian love. An observation, mind you, not a critique…

As for my own experience, I was only a little shaky. I belong to three groups, two of which are devoted to the process of writing, the other to poetry. Each is unique in both their format and their focus. All are made up of wonderfully gifted and interesting individuals. Sharing my poems and writing is somewhat the same at these venues, sans the microphone and stage. At our group gatherings, we sit around a table, made up of known and friendly faces. Quite different from standing slightly elevated with dozens of pairs of eyes sitting around the room before you. But – doable, indeed.

It was an interesting evening, something quite different from the basketball game we’ll attend tonight, to be sure! I enjoyed myself and hope to engage in a repeat performance.


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  1. Congratulations on stretching your comfort zone, Julie. Are you going to share the poem you read with us in the coming weeks?

    • Sorry, no. It’s one I want to see if I can get published first. Apparently most places don’t accept anything that’s been previously posted on social media. BUT – if I can get that done, I’ll gladly share it! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  2. Hi Julie,

    I have ancestors from Iowa so I’m pleased to make your acquaintance! My mother’s people came from near Council Bluffs.

    I’m wowed at your bravery for going to a poetry open mic. This is on my list for 2017. Have you had any of your work published? I’ve submitted poetry to a few places but no uptake. Yet.

    Thanks for the inspiration and nudge to get the work out there. All the best and happy writing in 2018!


    • Hello Susanne. I’m from north central Iowa, Forest City – home of Winnebago motor homes (I worked there for 12 years).

      The poetry gig wasn’t really that scary, just a little unnerving. Actually, I was more nervous the first few times I read my poetry at my writing and poetry groups – my heart was, the old cliché, really pounding in my chest!

      No, I’ve not been published – yet! I belong to the Iowa Poetry Association and plan to submit five poems (the maximum allowed) for their annual publication Lyrical Iowa. Fingers crossed!

      Have you gotten rejections on the poetry you’ve submitted or just no responses so far?

      Thanks for checking in. Do keep in touch!


      • Yes, I’ve been rejected, not just ignored! One was a nice rejection that said something to the effect that I had a gift for unusual metaphors. Good luck with your submissions! I’ll let you know how my first poetry reading goes.

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