On Sunday, the Gallows Hill Writers presented a reading at a new restaurant in town. One of them was so nervous she didn't notice her own parents in the front row. We all tried to reassure her, but in the end, it was the performance itself that worked.
You get up on that stage and hope there's light on your page (and not in your eyes), and if there's some kind of lectern...all the better. I usually wear glasses too, even though I've printed out the poems in large type. Before I start I spend a few minutes looking out at the people in the room. Once I'm reading, the poems take on a life of their own, pulling the audience along with them.
I move with my voice, speaking at the rate of my heartbeat, and hope that the poems draw enough attention that I slip through the half hour unmarked. I've known musicians all my life, and many have said they play to meet people, to speak without being interrupted.
And for protection. The swirl of lines that permeates the air in the room protects you from small talk's awkwardness. People can start right in asking me what the hell a boletto is, or how I ever thought of licking a horsefly off my arm while clinging to a galloping mare. I'm spared the whattayadoforadayjob and have-you-been-here-long preliminaries. We can get right down to chasing after sound. I thrive on the anonymity of rhythm and riff that sparkles through conversation, the humor that warms it, the undertow of knowing .enriched with syllables of pure joy.
And I'm glad to meet you. I could listen to your juicy iambs all night long.