Tonight I will be taking the train into Manhattan to see my poetry professor, Susan Miller, read her work at Fordham University. I am looking forward to hearing her poems, especially because I have not yet read anything of hers.

I have participated in many “readings.” My first was for English class my senior year of high school. I read a sultry Villanelle I wrote for my boyfriend at the time. I began shaking and almost crying half way through. My emotional reaction had nothing to do with the content of the piece, I was just FREAKED OUT by reading it out loud.

After that, I practiced reading for my close friends in my dorm room freshman year of college, but never could shake my nerves over reading for more than a few friends.  Fall semester of my Junior year I took performance poetry with Evan Rehill completely because of a mistake by the WebReg Gods. I registered for the class under the impression that it was just a 300 level poetry workshop. Instead, I spent the semester memorizing my poems and performing them to the class. It was very theatrical. While I didn’t really write anything that I loved that semester, (I was too busy planning and fantasizing about the next semester, Spring of my junior year that I spent in Spain) I grew way more comfortable with reading my own work in front of other people. In September I began frequenting Huntington Poetry Club. I read there for the first time in October, and still felt a little nervous. I actually forgot to breathe a few times. Now I make an effort to read my newest work every time I go, and with the help of some wine, I feel that my readings have become more confident and fluid.

Poetry Club took place at Tent state on Tuesday night, and I read this to a crowd of about forty students.




Winter’s four o’clock sun
washed the pale wall orange.
Sitting at her desk
she mapped possibilities
and wished
on loose eyelashes
beside nesting dolls,
and desk plants
to be watered.
She had an eye
for dorm room
Light filtered
through Depression
glass jars and collided
with a reading lamp.
She watched it all
with calm.


Rarely did she
attend her evening
class. Her choice,
hidden in the
privacy of home
at the state
felt deceitfully authentic.


As daylight dimmed gradually
the tennis courts disappeared.
Atop the wooden nightstand
was a notebook of plans,
most pages were blank
or stained
or dusty.
The clock
insisted it was
too late
to change
her mind, so
she remained
observing the sky.


She dropped a candle
and spilled liquid wax
on the floor,
while spreading
pumpkin butter
across crackers.


With the room
and notebook
she left the wax
to harden and dry.


Months later
it came right up,
and off the
linoleum floor
just by
chipping at the
hardened puddle
with the
sharp point
of a pen.


So while reading this on Tuesday I was surprised to find myself short of breath and almost shaking. I kept my cool and took a few steps while reading, a little technique I have to avoid obvious quivering. Also, my roommate called me while I was reading this off my iPhone, which led to a pause that I think I executed well on the spot. I smiled while still glancing down, pressing ignore to her call, and made a little extended eye contact with the audience in the two brutal seconds before my poem reappeared.

Perhaps because poetry club was outside rather than in a basement on Huntington St., with a different crowd, I got a little nervous. Either way, reading out loud is something I will always need to practice.


Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s