Why I read my poems

I saw a comment under one of my poems that read: "If she memorized it and didn't look at her phone, it would be more powerful."

Dear Max, 

Over the years, I've heard folks say things about me reading my poems off page or off my phone in videos. Rarely do these folks ask me why. I am an artist, Max and being an artist means I get to create on my own terms. It means I get to define how I present my work into the world. Shame on you for thinking you know anything about what would be best for my art. Shame on you for not being refined enough to differentiate between entertainment and art. 

Do you know anything about how much I work? Do you know anything about how quickly production companies ask me to be prepared to be on camera with a gorgeous poem? Do you know how long it takes to write or what it requires? Do you even know anything about poetry? I ask you these things because I am fascinated by how quickly people, like you, remark about things they know very little about. 

I don't memorize my poems because they are mine. Because I work and write so much that it stopped being worth it to memorize poems because of what I had to sacrifice to do so. I write for freedom and memorizing forces me to be a hostage. It doesn't allow me to meet the poem new or where I'm at in the current moment. It doesn't allow for reality or my truest expression and that is what my work is about.  I realized somewhere between writing countless poems and being bored by the poetry scene because every Spoken Word Artist seemed exactly the same, that I could create my own lane. I thought for a while that I would work less and I did, at first until I decided to create and perform unashamed. After 12 years of doing poetry and 6 years being a full time artist, I'd say it is all working out just fine. 

So yes, Max while the video might have been more powerful to you if I memorized it, it would have been less honest. It would have been filled with insecurity about getting every word right and the message would have been lost. It would have been less true to the process and the two days I had to write it before shooting it. It would have been pretend and that is not what my work is about. I am about the reality of things, not the fantasy you have become accustomed to witnessing.  I'd love to satisfy every viewer but the reality is: the value and power of my work isn't up to you. 

Max replied with: 

Hey, thanks very much, I appreciate the amount of thought you put into that. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved your poem, I found it awesome and I can relate a lot to the things you said with my own personal outlook on life, I was just giving you some constructive criticism on how it would have worked better for me personally. I guess I prefer full eye contact presentations because my background is business and when preparing for my presentations I memorize all the things I need to say and I explain it thoroughly and enthusiastically to others to keep their attention. I'm not familiar with poetry, but I always enjoy it. Have a good day :)