Friday, May 23, 2014

How to Read Poetry

On Saturday, June 14th, 4 p.m. at the Indy Reads Books bookstore, I will join two other poets as we read new and selected poems.  Indy Reads Books is located on Massachusetts Avenue (Indianapolis) and the event begins at 4 p.m. with a book signing to follow.

Wow, it's been years, man.  Back during my college days at Indiana State, I frequently read my poetry in smoke-filled bars and coffeehouses, but I've had nearly a thirty year hiatus from poetry before taking up the poet's pen again in 2009.  Anyway, if this is your thing . . . hope to see you at Indy Reads Books on June 14th.

A few people have now commented on my first collection of poetry:  Where in the World We Meet (Chatter House Press).  One reviewer even said, "I read the entire book in one sitting."  And listen, this guy wasn't a relative, either . . . and as far as I know he's taking no hallucinogenic drugs. 

Me?  I wouldn't read a collection of poetry in one sitting.  I couldn't, and don't, do it.  Poetry is to be savored, I think, over the course of time.  Poetry is intended to sink, not swim.  It is intended to go deep.  Linger.  It is intended to leave a welt.  The only way it can do this is to leave the reader (or the listener) wanting more.

I don't have a fancy reading voice.  I know I'll just get up there at the podium, say a few words about a few poems, read 'em, and then let the audience have them for what they are.  Eventually, the words just have to survive on their own--like children leaving the house.  I can't make them say or be anything that they don't have the capacity to convey.

But the most troublesome question I'm mulling now is:  what do I wear?  A suit seems rather pretentious.  Blue jeans are too informal, I think.  Perhaps something in an evening gown.  Or I could pull a Dennis Rodman and show up in a wedding dress.  

I wonder if my wife would notice?  And perhaps more troubling:  would she even care? 


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