I wrote about my first interactions with poi (the spinning-balls-on-ropes activity, not the taro-root food) back in April of 2004. Since then, I've practiced with Kam's practice (non-fire) poi every now and then, but still haven't obtained any of my own, because I keep wanting ones like Kam's, and none of the online stores that sell poi sell anything like these.
But Kam just purchased a couple of new glowing practice poi from Home of Poi (a company in New Zealand), and she left those and her old fuzzy ones at my place while she's traveling, along with her copy of Michal Kahn's excellent book Poi Spinning. (Btw, I received email from Kam the other day; she's successfully arrived in Bangkok. She had a minor adventure on the way: when she arrived in Tokyo after the first leg of the trip, the plane couldn't get to the gate for weather-related reasons, so they sat on the tarmac waiting to get off the plane for six hours. But eventually they let people off the plane and she made her connecting flight.) So I've been playing with the poi on and off in spare moments for the past couple of days, and I'm getting all enthusiastic about them again. Definitely time to buy some of the glowy ones; just not sure whether to buy 'em from Home of Poi or an American company like Flamma Aeterna, where they're cheaper and it wouldn't require burning as much airplane fuel to get them to me.
Anyway. I've been working my way through the book, slowly. I was very pleased with myself to figure out how to do big circles in front of me, until I saw that that's on page 12 of 140-page book. :) Then I finally figured out the "carry turn" in both directions, with two poi at once--I'd been able to do it with one back in 2004, but hadn't managed both at once. That's really cool and fun (and the book helped a great deal, once I read the notes). Now I'm working on the "reel"--alternating spinning in a circle in front of me and then a circle behind me, with both poi at once. Haven't quite figured that one out yet. And that's pages 16-17. I have a ways to go.
In all my looking at poi stuff lately, it's talked about how you're going to hit yourself with them and it's going to hurt, and ways to mitigate that (like if you're using tennis ball-based poi, apparently slashing the sides of the ball will make it hurt less when it hits you). I kind of scoffed at that--I've been accidentally hitting myself with them in the leg occasionally, and it hasn't hurt much. But with the reels, I keep hitting myself in the shoulder and back, which hurts more than the leg hits. And I just managed to whack myself in the side of the head, and that still hurts ten minutes later. I decided it was time to hang up the poi for the night. Writing about poi is less dangerous than using them.
But I hope to keep practicing, and I'm gonna take some poi to this week's juggling session at work. I gather some jugglers are put off by poi, but the folks at work don't appear to have strong opinions about 'em.
I still have no desire to do the actual flaming ones. They're very pretty, but I'd just as soon stand over here and watch someone else spin them, thank you.