Tabatha Wharton


{musings of an aging millennial trope}


I wanted to take a minute with this specific poem, before you dive right into it.


Throughout the journey of writing and publishing this book, I've kept a lot of my process to myself. Mostly because I'm not a "trained" writer -- I'm in grad school for sociology, not literature or creative writing -- so who am I to talk about how I come up with these poems, or anything actually of technical substance about my writing style? Writing has always been a passion and outlet for me, not a point of technical skill or training.

But this one, this one was different.

I wrote "florida" with the intention of performing it after being delightfully bewitched by the world of viral poetry. I wanted to play with the verbal lyricism that may not convey on the page (or screen, as it may be) as well as find a stronger presence in using my literal voice to express the angst that bred the poem in the first place. As a theatre kid, performance has never intimidated me ... but performing this piece would be one of the first times I would be acting out my own words, my own story, not someone else's. Fueled by the support and confidence that the Dayton Story Slams have provided me (and later, the MOVE event), I knew eventually, I would want to perform my own poetry.

So I wrote "florida" aloud, and took my time with it in a way I don't with a lot of my other poetry -- I'm much more of a write-when-the-inspiration-strikes-or-when-the-words-barge-through-everything-else-in-my-brain, not a conscious, editorial writer. It is both my superpower and my kryptonite, to be completely honest.

Of course, I wasn't planning on reading at the Poetry Slam this past weekend, but the organizers pretty much harassed me on social media to read something, so I wasn't prepared in the ways I would have liked to be. I didn't have it memorized, I didn't practice ... I didn't even get to do my vocal warm-ups before I was called to the stage. So now, listening to the audio, I can hear where it still needs work, and where my presentation could be improved (I know I need to slow down story of my life).

But. I also saw my opportunity to give it a try. My schedule doesn't sync up with the Poetry Slams very often, so I wasn't going to waste a chance to give it a whirl. And the feedback throughout the reading and afterwards was honestly shocking. A friend who frequently attends the Poetry Slam told me that the mid-poem feedback is rare and I should see it as a very good thing, and I'm working on taking that to heart. I was terrified and shaking the entire time, yet so fortunate to have so much support and kindness from both my existing friends and the Poetry Slam community.

So now, without further ado, here is my very first public reading/performance of my poetry, the poem "florida" from manic pixie suicide mistress.