I was browsing through Facebook one day, looking for new pages to follow, when I found out about poetry readings. There aren't any readings in Small Town, where people usually hang out at bars, go to football games, or drive around in pickup trucks with Trump stickers and Confederate flag license plates.
I decided to check out one of the readings in a town that was a long drive away, and of course I got caught in a long traffic jam on the way there. It made me think of that R.E.M. video, "Everybody Hurts," where everyone is sitting in their cars in the middle of a traffic jam and thinking to themselves.
I sat in my car during that traffic jam and thought, "I'm only doing this for the poetry."
I was a half hour late to the poetry reading, but I went anyway. One woman sang a couple songs that made me think of Phoebe Buffay's songs on Friends, because the lyrics were weird, but her voice was much nicer than Phoebe's. I spoke to a few of the poets after the reading, and they were really nice; they told me about other readings in the area, which I decided to go to.
Like the first reading, the second reading was full of hipsters dressed in dark clothes. (I did see at least one poet dressed in a cowboy hat and boots, because this is the South, after all.) One woman read what she called a "bisexual haiku." Several people literally snapped their fingers instead of clapping at the end of each poem.
I was still recovering from the flu (I basically coughed through my entire winter break, and I'm still coughing, which is why I haven't been blogging much), and I resisted the urge to cough and laugh at the same time. It reminded me of the time I went to a reading in Chicago, where I didn't know until after I got there that the theme of that night's stories was "Sluts".
During both readings, I thought to myself, "This is so weird. And yet...I'm intrigued." Even though I didn't understand some of the poems, I enjoyed listening to people read them. It was encouraging to know that in spite of the fact that the walking definition of "narcissism" is about to be elected President and the new neighbors who moved in next door hung up a big Trump sign in their window (I really want to put Clinton stickers on their pickup trucks), there are a lot of people out there, writing.
The readings inspired me to go home and work on my own writing, which I've sadly been neglecting. It motivated me to send out a short story I wrote to a writing contest hosted by Writer's Digest, which I also found out about through Facebook.
It also made me want to read my own writing in front of other people, which I haven't done before, except in writing classes. The other poets told me about open mic nights where you can sign up to read whatever you want, even if it's not poetry. Maybe I could read something I wrote, even though the thought of seeing people react to my writing in person freaks me out just a little bit (OK, a lot).
What about you? Have you ever read any of your work at an open mic night or a poetry reading?
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