A while back there was a call for readers at a particular online event celebrating a Canadian poet who had just released a new book. I’ve done these open mic things in the past and really enjoyed it, so I put my name forward and I was accepted for the reading last Thursday night. I was initially super-happy but then I realized that, rather than being able to choose what I was going to read from one of my short story collections, it was a POETRY reading. I don’t write a lot of poetry but I’ve been working on a few pieces recently, and I had one I was really proud of, so I thought, what the heck—this will be a safe space to try it out and maybe get some feedback. The poem I’d chosen to read was about narrowly missing hitting a deer with my car, and how the universal forces of time and karma came into play—I mean, there was more too it than that, but that was kind of the main thing. It was a pretty personal piece and I thought I’d just read that one and be done. The event started and the guest poet was amazing, reading some of her poetry and chatting about the things that informed her writing, particularly the deaths of her parents when she was younger. Her mother had passed away from cancer when she was in university and then her father had died suddenly and tragically a few years later AFTER HE SWERVED ON THE ROAD TO AVOID A DEER AND CRASHED HIS CAR. And I was like WTF am I supposed to do NOW?! Was I really going to read a poem about how I SURVIVED a potential deer/car incident when her dad DIED IN ONE? Obviously not—I’m not a MONSTER (unlike the woman at the last reading I was at, a Valentine’s Day event about “Love”, where we were specifically asked NOT to read anything that included violence, rape or incest. SHE read an essay about EXACTLY ALL OF THAT and it was so disturbing that no one knew what to say. And I was even more upset because I write a lot about death but I managed to find one of the few pieces I’ve written that didn’t involve someone dying, and I don’t think anyone even heard me because they were still in shock over such a flagrant violation of the Valentine’s Day Spirit, although if you think about it, the original Valentine was dragged around Rome, beaten to death and had his head cut off, so she may have had a point).
At any rate, I was now left in the position of being shortly introduced and not having anything to read, so I was scrambling, flipping through docs and trying to find something I was equally proud of or was at least polished enough to read to a group of PROFESSIONAL POETS. So my turn came, and I read a couple of things, including a poem I wrote for my dog, and no one responded, not even in the chat, and then I just shut off my camera because I felt so dumb. But then the next reader started his presentation by saying really nice things about my literary magazine, DarkWinter Lit, where one of his first poems was published, and that made me feel a little less embarrassed.
Then yesterday, I was fortunate enough to do a live reading at a coffee shop/bookstore in a nearby town with a few other writers. It was a much better experience aside from a quirky microphone. One of the stories I read was one that I’d never read out loud to an audience before called “Twist of Faith” and I’d forgotten that at one point, there’s some very dark humour. When I got to that point, people in the audience started laughing, and then I started too, and could barely keep going–a combination of nerves and relief that other people thought it was funny too. But I finished and got some great feedback, as well as a complimentary swag bag that contained GROUND COFFEE, and if you know anything about me at all, you’ll know that I would have preferred wine.
Long story short, being a writer is hard.
In other news, I was very disappointed by this ad which is ostensibly for flooring but also for a fox? So I messaged the guy to find out more about the fox and he didn’t take it very well at all.
Apparently the fox DOESN’T come with the carpeting, and personally I think this ad is extremely misleading because I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s more interested in the fox than the carpet it’s sitting on. The fox is very cute and looks equally confused as to why it’s featured in an ad for a FLOORING STORE NOT A PET STORE, and someone should tell this guy that his customer service is as sh*tty as his ad sense if he yells at people who come into the store to pet his fox the way he yelled at me for inquiring about his fox.
Anyway, if you’re interested, here’s the poem I wrote about my dog:
It’s 2 am and
My dog is whimpering
In the throes of a bad dream.
Does he miss his mother and
The way she would comfort him
When he was frightened?
Is he lonely for his brothers
For the warmth of their bodies
He cries and twitches
And I wonder what haunts him.
I am his pack now.
I shake him awake and tell him