Get Your Toes Wet, Poet

This is one of the few selective phrases that rising youth slam poets would holler at each other whenever a poet touched the stage to perform their written masterpiece. The informant recalls two distinct moments when he heard the phrase used. One is when he was a part of the audience watching a poet from Richmond walk up to the stage to begin her performance. A loud shout erupted from the observing crowd, “get your toes wet, poet!” The informant remembers how the face of the performer transformed from nervous to strong and confident in an instant. The other moment when the informant heard the phrase used is when he got up on stage to perform his own piece. The informant remembered how hearing the phrase helped lessen his stage fright and boost his confidence.

Those who have attended spoken word performances understand the terror of reciting a self-written poem in front of strangers. This form of expression is very personal on some levels, and to wear your emotions on your sleeve in front of people you do not know can be a frightening thing. The phrase “get your toes wet, poet” serves as an icebreaker for the performer and the audience. It reminds the poet that they should give it all they’ve got and not be afraid to speak their truths. It bridges a connection between the audience and the performers, reminding the poets that they are not only performers but also passionate individuals with a voice and mind just like the observers.