When Jennifer Jean arranged this reading for us at the Hillside Public Library with the Poets in Nassau series, we (Jennifer, Colleen Michaels, and I) were excited about reading together outside of our Massachusetts comfort zone. And, it was a road trip for the girls.
(L to R: Jennifer Jean, me, and Colleen Michaels)
We had six people in our audience. Six. Yet we made the best of it. We put the chairs in a circle and sat for our presentation, which helped make the room a bit more intimate. Then, we read our work in conversation.
This is our first time reading together in a round (although Colleen and I had success with it a few months ago). So Jennifer read a poem, then I read a poem in response to hers, followed by Colleen reading in response to me. Our poems cover similar topics, which made it easier to create loose connections. I wish we had filmed our reading because the audience loved what we did and really appreciated the effort.
Reading in response forced us to choose poems on the fly. I know I read a few poems from Underlife I had never read before an audience. The performance offered another level of connection than having three separate readings. Safe to say that we enjoyed the night as much, if not more, as the audience.
I know that when I commit to readings, there are no guarantees. In this case, it was a beautiful, warm August night--a Friday. And we're relatively unknown poets reading at a library on Long Island. My feeling is that the event was not well promoted. Even if it was, I don't think it would have made much of a difference. The truth is you just never know how an event will turn out. And if I had not done the reading, I would have missed speaking to the audience at our unplanned Q & A, listening to their work at the open mic, and hearing their appreciative words after the event.
Truth be told: having the opportunity to hang out with Jennifer and Colleen--kid-free--for a 24 hours was priceless.
I would LOVE to hear your experiences about readings that did not turn out the way they were planned. Whether you're a poet/writer, or an organizer, I want to hear from you!