This Wednesday, I will be reading my poetry at the estate where my artist residency studio is located. My studio is literally in the carriage house, however I will be reading in the ballroom. This will be quite a change. It’s a good thing I don’t own a ball gown or I might have been inclined to wear one.
The exhibit evening coordinators call what I’m doing “an ongoing reading of poetry throughout the night.” I better bring some water with me. I’ve never done this before, and I assume people will be strolling in and out perhaps even mid-poem, most likely preferring to meander through visual arts, rather than the invisible sounds I’ll be speaking. This is the biggest reading I’ve ever done in my career. I read at the University where I got my MFA once I finished my thesis which was pretty big, but this reading (in the ballroom) will be my first as a professional, all on my own. It’s exciting and unnerving at once. No longer can things like tardiness, messy hair or even a slight buzz to calm the nerves be excused and acceptable as they are for the rookie graduate student. Now, it’s all me. I’m not a duckling in a graduate program; I’m my own brand, my own entity. Any level of nuisance or pleasantness I emit can either eradicate or encourage future invitations to read. How I read, what I read, how “likeable” I am, determines my fate. There’s pressure building, but I hope the poems will speak for me, and I hope the energy of what once was an up and running ballroom will enliven me. Which poems should I read? Well, I already know. That’s one easy element to this endeavor. I’m going to read the ones I know people like, ones I’ve read before. Wednesday evening won’t be a time to experiment or push “social issues” buttons. I’m pulling out my shiniest gems to show how much I’m really worth. (Well, maybe there will be room for one or two experimental pieces…)