Monday, March 10, 2008

On Tanking a Reading

You know all that stuff they tell you (they being smart people who know these things) about how, when giving a reading one should practice, keep a bottle of water close at hand, practice, make eye contact with the audience, and practice? Well, it's true. If you don't practice, you do stupid crap like lose your place, stumble over unfamiliar words, mispronounce words, and generally make a fool of yourself.

I also learned never to: wear big clunky shoes that make one teeter, drink excessively before the reading, read from a printout with a font smaller than 14-point Times New Roman, and show up without any notes to introduce each poem or group of poems.

I'm not a fan of reading banter or cleverness. Really I'm not. But to some extent the audience is showing up for a show and that needs to be addressed in some manner.

Also good to know: If a friend comes to town to read with you, or if your friends come to town to see you read, resist the temptation to eat and drink excessively for the three days prior to your reading. The pants you planned to wear won't fit if you're bloated and you will find this out with 20 minutes to spare, resulting in a desperate hunt for fat-pants that are still dressy enough to wear to a reading.


And also good to know: Take any and every chance to read in public that is offered to you. I've avoided readings since I've been at Montana and my ability to perform in front of an audience has suffered for it. If I had it to do all over again, I'd read on street corners for change every Tuesday afternoon.

Thank God I don't have it to do all over again.

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