Yesterday I gave a reading at the Noyes Museum of Art in Oceanville. It was a lovely venue, with a large window overlooking Lily Lake. The museum features fine and folk art – the gallery where we read was featuring an exhibition of artwork by Fred Noyes, the namesake of the museum. He wasn’t that good, I have to say.
I read with Shawn R. Jones, another Finishing Line Press author. Her poems were sonically beautiful, and she read one called “Home Remedy” about a home abortion that was chilling. She brought a large crowd with her – it was her first reading, and her friends and family were eager to support her. As people were filing into the reading, Donna and I felt something like guests on the wrong side of the wedding – the set of chairs on the opposite side of the room filled up very quickly with Shawn’s friends and family, and Donna and I sat alone on our side. Awkward. Eventually Shawn’s crowd started filling in our side too. Fortunately, Emari and Mike came in just as the host was standing up to intro the reading, so I felt less lame at that point.
I felt a bit apprehensive when I started reading – too often, people go to a reading to see one person, and they’re not terribly interested in anyone else that day. I even expected a few to get up and leave after Shawn’s reading (she read first) – I’ve seen it happen before. But every single person in attendance was attentive, listening intently as I read. No one left early. Any doubt I had about my reception washed away by the end of the first poem. It was a bit unsettling, to see so many pairs of eyes so engaged, but I got used to it fairly quickly. After the reading, nearly half of the crowd approached me to tell me how much they enjoyed my reading, and I sold three books out of it.
It was probably one of the most fulfilling readings I’ve done, actually. I had never seen such a warm, receptive audience for a reading – and I’m guessing not half of them are writers. They were excited by the poems that both Shawn and I read, and found themselves laughing and nodding along with certain parts. It was, overall, a good day.