Last weekend, I was invited to read poetry and novel excerpts with the N*E*W*S Reading Series. Poetmom (January) and BostonErin are the writers behind the series and this is their second season hosting readings. I met January virtually, through the Poetry Thursday project before realizing we were both from the Boston area and it's been lovely to form a real life connection with her.
I'm relatively new to public readings. Not that I don't have years of experience in public speaking--I've lectured to huge conferences as well as taught numerous seminars over the past 21 years of being a physical therapist. However, there is something vastly different between speaking/teaching in a professional role and reading one's own work.
I participated in a local coffee house's open mic 2 years ago and spent the entire time (waiting to read, reading, and recovering from reading) in a state of near panic. I did a second reading about a year later and by the time I realized I wasn't going to die of terror and I was actually enjoying myself, it was over. This reading felt different. I felt comfortable and relaxed. It was fun to read my work aloud, to feel the words in my mouth and hear they way they collided in the ear.
It's a different experience hearing versus reading. Hearing a poem or a story read aloud brings back personal memories of being read to in childhood, but I also think it must evoke cultural memories. Humankind has a history of oral storytelling which goes back a long way before written language. Spoken words have a musicality to them that they lack laying flat on the page. This is something I have only recently learned to appreciate.
So, thank you, Jan and Erin for giving me the opportunity to be a storyteller for the evening.