My 6 Minutes Are Up!

I am happy to report I successfully completed my first public poetry reading! 🙂

poetrySPARK made for a fun evening. The Featured Reader event was held in a cool venue–hair salon by day, bar by night. We read from the DJ booth! With 6 featured readers, a youth contest winner, and three invited poets, the two hours were jam-packed.

Apparently a jury selected the 6 featured poets from a couple dozen entries (in a blind process), so I felt good to be in the top quartile based on the poems alone. And I performed my poems the way I wanted to–no stumbling or mumbling–and got good feedback from the group. I was glad I had practiced! Thanks to my Toastmasters club for the feedback–I used it.

All in all, I am satisfied with my debut. Now I might have to try an open mic night… (Ooo, I’m giddy with anticipation!)

Reading from the DJ booth

13 thoughts on “My 6 Minutes Are Up!

  1. Congratulations! A major part of the stalling of my poetry career has been that I hate doing readings in a way I hate few other things. Anyone who can pull it off in style has my admiration. Did you do it without copies in hand (I don’t see any in the photo.)? I never could manage that; the combination of long poems and nerves is a killer.


    • Thank you for the comment! First, I will say I had a really good public speaking coach who helped me get over some of my fear and anxiety about public speaking generally, which helped tremendously on the poetry reading. I took what he taught me and practiced it at Toastmasters. One of the pieces of feedback I got from a member of that group was to put my poems in a black folder so that it would not be distracting (like sticky notes in a book can be). The folder is sitting on that raised stand you can see in the photo so I didn’t have to hold it. I read 5 poems, all fairly short. The first one I did have memorized (with paper back-up just in case) and I practiced enough to not have to read the others word by word. Eye contact! I am curious what it is you hate about readings. If it is nerves, keep in mind that what you feel and what the audiences sees are two different things!


  2. Some of it is standard stage fright, I suppose. But most of it is that I really dislike being looked at by groups. I know how hopelessly neurotic that sounds, but if I could stand behind an audience and have them not turn around, I think I’d be fine. And unfortunately, closing my eyes doesn’t help. It took me a long time to find a publisher who was willing to work with a poet who won’t do readings.


    • One thing I found helpful in getting over my anxiety was remembering that most crowds are friendly and supportive and want the speaker to succeed. I am glad you were able to find a publisher who would work with you.


      • It isn’t even that I’m worried about what they think; it’s not as if I think they’re going to boo and throw things. I just literally don’t like being looked at so directly. It feels like a huge invasion of my personal space to me, not much different from someone who stands too close or touches too much. Strangely enough, I volunteer reading to kids at the library, and that doesn’t bother me at all now that I’m used to it. None of this would really even matter, but my publisher went belly-up last year. Thanks, economy. It’s made me take a long look at how much I want to be part of that grind any more.


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