PAGE 4
Every time I'm about to perform, I wonder if I have the courage to get up there yet again as a postmenopausal woman and be funny, sexy, and bold. I've been writing poems and reading them aloud since I was 10 years old, but a stage show is not just a poetry reading. The Shimmering Verge takes place inside a mysterious silk-paneled version of the cocoon where every poem is born, and the poems, whose titles range from "Have You Ever Faked an Orgasm?" to "Forgiveness," explore my childhood with an alcoholic dad, the deaths of my mom and sister, and my amazement at the luck of my midlife marriage. But it's really about the shimmering verge of in-between places in a woman's life, the times when she doesn't know whether to laugh or cry, to stay or go, to be thrilled or afraid—or even whether to live or die. These are the contradictions of living that poetry puts into words.

I've realized that a curious thing happened to me as I aged. The gifts I had cut off or ignored began to grow again. It was as if I were one of my grandmother's geraniums. The stems are full of dormant nodes of growth that will sprout if the head of the plant gets lopped off. My grandmother routinely cut back her geraniums for fuller growth, and by midlife I felt I had to cut back, too. I'd gotten leggy with overcommitments. I needed to fall dormant and let those side nodes grow. I thought that they'd just grow into more poems. I had no idea I'd make the poems into theater. But one day Louise Fagan asked me, a quaking newcomer to the stage, to participate in a benefit production of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler's groundbreaking show. After that experience, with Fagan's encouragement, I began to collect the poems I've written that have been most important to me, along with stories about my life as a poet. Fagan introduced me to a hip young rock musician turned serious composer, Andy Creeggan (one of the original members of the rock group Barenaked Ladies). Andy wrote the music for The Verge, as we call the show for short. So now here I am, doing agility training (dodging, pivoting, pointing, lunging, boxing!) and yoga to sustain the strength I need to get through a one-woman show.

NEXT STORY

Comment

LONG FORM
ONE WORD