So I went to a poetry reading last night. (These are the quotes you don't often hear me sharing in the boat with my fishing buddies but, hey, it's who I am.)
This one was held at Mama D's Coffee shop in Genesee Depot, about 15 minutes from my house. The event recognizes a featured poet, in this case Stephen Anderson an accomplished, prize-winning poet from the Milwaukee area. The way the event runs is the featured poet reads for about 30 minutes and then the microphone is open to anyone else who wants to share their work.
The event is run by Mama D's, with oversight by Paula Anderson, poet laureate for the Village of Wales.
Now, I know poetry is not for everyone. I get that. But I also know there is a lot to be gained from live performance art - which is what this is in every sense of the word. It is the intersection of literature and theater. (And, this goes for book reading/signing events as well.) The poet/author is not only putting their written work out there for people to react to, but they are in a sense performing it as well.
And this is what makes a good poetry/literature reading a great one. If the reader has an engaging stage presence, a commanding voice (or at least in command of their own work), it can make all the difference. In my last blog post I mentioned how I tend to start out my events nervous and choppy. Once I settle in, I can feel the change in my voice, inflection and demeanor. That is when it becomes more like a visceral experience - and a lot of fun.
But I've strayed from my point.
What I wanted to get across is how, if you haven't been to a live reading event ever, or lately, I would encourage you to try one out sometime. They are intimate affairs and can touch upon the human experience in ways that impact you. I look at it as another form of entertainment. I've been to a number of them in support of my writing colleagues and I'll be honest some are better than others. (For the really bad ones, there are even occasions where you beg for mercy, or wish you could vaporize and slide out the heat vent.) The key as an author is reading your audience and knowing when to stop. Like anything, doing it well requires a lot of practice.
Another cool part about this event was meeting a couple of the guys there afterward. They were both about my age or a little older, both male, both poets. We all talked about our work; One of the guys, Robert Nordstrom had a book out, The Sacred Monotony of Breath, and the other was just getting back into writing. One asked where he could get a copy of The Portland House. In turn, I may buy the other guy's poetry book because I liked his readings. It's all about connections.
At the event I was also formally introduced as the new poet laureate for the Village of Wales, effective in April, which was a nice shout out. I am looking forward to what all of that brings into my life.
Anyways, my point is, support local authors and poets. You won't regret it.