This Friday I took part in a student reading at Pratt’s library. There were five other student readers and I think it was half reading fiction and have reading poetry. I was really nervous, as is my way, but still pushed myself to go because it just seemed like something I should be doing (the same way my fledgling review and journalism “careers” started).
When I got there and finally saw the other readers face-to-face, my suspicion was confirmed that most of them were older than me. Most graduate students, it turns out, do not go right into graduate programs after college so I am quite the anonmaly at 22 years of age. More to the point, I don’t have as many bullet points on my resume (like the earlier Masters degrees and publications that others had). So, in a kind of self defense I pulled out my standby mention of three minors and added that I graduated Summa Cum Laude (hearing all the different pronunciations of that never gets old).
I was the first reader. My poems got some laughs, in the right places and everything. After the reading I also got compliments from a couple of guys (there are guys in training to be librarians, who knew!) who liked my poems. The other readers ranged from good to just interesting in a train-wreck-kind-of-way.
The weird thing is that a lot of my poems, really most of them, are not about my life. They are inspired by something I see, or hear, or something that happened. But then I go off on tangents and they become not my life. But standing on that podium, reading my words to a group of mostly strangers, it felt like I was reading secrets from my diary. It was scary, but once I got over the nerves (and kept my hands against the podium to hide the shaking) it was easier. It was even fun. And, I guess given what it felt like up there, it was nice that people did like my stuff.