Sadly, Improv Poet Serene Bechir passed away on September 6, 2016. To honor her contributions to the Second Life Community, The SL Parade has agreed to republish Kamille Kamala’s article that highlights Bechir’s work and persona. Previously published in Kultivate Magazine on February 26, 2016, Kultivate Magazine Founder John Brianna (johannes1977) kindly gave The SL Parade an opportunity to share just how special Improv Poet Serene Bechir was to the SL Community. To read this month’s issue of Kultivate Magazine, please click on the following link: Kultivate Magazine’s September 2016 issue is now available!
I have known this poet for several years. And, I have to say that she is severely unique in that she can recite an improv poem that will woo the crowd and mesmerize them under her holy non sanctimonious verses. Her improv poems have had me at the edge of my seat hanging on each and every word that streamed from her conscious as it flowed out of her mouth, down her lap, reaching the stage, and swinging upwards hitting the air waves penetrating the ears and minds of the chosen venue’s patronage.
Serene Bechir, began writing poems as a teenager. She states that she was first introduced to poetry by her mom who read poems to her while growing up. This peaked her lifelong interest in the medium. She also started writing poems seriously in 1999. During a time in her life when she was dealing with chronic fatigue brought on by an illness.
It was around this time she that stumbled on an online chat program. This chat program was called Virtual Places. This place was a virtual haven for poets and she valued the friendship/camaraderie she felt from her interaction with the poets there. She valued it so much so, that she traveled to Burlington, Canada to meet with them. She wanted to see if she could read her poems aloud. And, this she did for the first time, gaining rave reviews. The chat program did not have voice, so this was truly a coveted challenge she sought out and has been reading aloud every since.
She rezzed her avatar in Second Life on June 7th, 2007. And, she has been deeply woven in the tapestry of poetry here in Second Life every since. I met her at my poetry venue the Lyrical Cafe some years back and we became instant friends. I have supported her by reading for her at venues when requested. And, she has been an avid supporter of the Lyrical over the years too.
Serene, has a self published book titled Virtual Places/Real Emotions. It is a collection of poems about her life, published in 2008. She has also had success in getting her poems published in real life, not to mention those poems in Second Life that have been used as well.
When asked what made her get into improv poetry? She quickly exclaimed, “I was forced into it!” She went on to tell me that in the online poetry hub one of her peers performed a bad improv only to show her that it was nothing to be afraid of. He was the best poet in the room. He made himself the horrible example that she lived with in her head. He sacrificed himself, totally making a fool of himself only to get into a private IM with her saying, “Is THAT what you are so damn afraid of??” She says that because of him showing her that it was not the end of the world, she took on improv and has been doing it since.
I posed the question to her; What advice would you give the budding poet, the budding improv poet? she retorted, “Just do it! Do not worry about if it is right or wrong or good or bad; you can edit later. Some of mine just end up in the trash and that’s okay. If you can get one idea, one phrase, one image, you are farther along than you were before. To me, its almost a prayer, a meditation, and a way for me to learn and communicate.”
She told me a story about a young girl who was a cutter. Serene could not fathom why this girl did such a thing. Serene wanted to understand her, so she did an improv in which she saw things through the girls eyes. She says she still cant totally understand it, but the words flowed about the topic and they came from a place of love and empathy. The girl told Serene that the words meant something to her and they have been very close every since then.
“Poetry is a state of being to me” she explained to me. And, when I asked her who are the famous poets that inspired her and why. She said, “Alfred Noyes, he wrote The Highwayman. I suppose that was the first non nursery rhyme poem I ever heard and i like that it told a story. I also love the romantic poets; Shelly, Byron, Keats and of course, Poe. Maya Angelou, now that is an amazing woman!”
Not knowing how she would respond to the next question. I was peaked in interest before I gave it to her. I swallowed deeply and sat up with more intent when I asked, “How would you begin a poem?” She began an improv right in the middle of the interview!
[we sit we talk she asks i answer
part of me remembers
not so long ago
i would have been afraid
afraid my answers were not right
not …. pleasing
now i know
my answers are my answers
they belong to me
what others think
well that part does not belong
is not a part of me
is not my problem to solve
my job in life
right here in this room
or out there
through those doors
is to be the truest me i can be
to speak from the heart
to speak with love and compassion
but also with truth
today we sit
and i am
I have to tell you that I was floored with her response. I asked for her permission to use it in my article and she gave me full rights. Before I allowed her to go back to her busy poet life, I asked her one last question.
I wanted to know where we could find her performing and she said, “Wolfies Poetry Surf on Thursdays at 1pm, Circe’s Poet Sanctuary on Saturday’s at 6pm, and the Chelsea Hotel.
I expressed to her my gratitude for her time and for all of the wonderful jewels of information that she shared with me. In my opinion, not only was this my first interview with a poet for Windlight. But, this was a great interview because I actually scored a improv! If this is how things are beginning as a contributer, I really cant tell you how excited I am for the journey. Off, off and away!