Reading Is Fun-da-Mental

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:

For Atlas

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
And sisters,
For the warmth of their bodies
At night?

He cries and twitches
And I wonder what haunts him.
I am his pack now.
I shake him awake and tell him
Everything is
Just fine.

46 thoughts on “Reading Is Fun-da-Mental

    • Thanks! Atlas is a sweetie:-) I really enjoy doing readings but I’m always making changes at the last minute based on what someone else reads. Once, I was going to read a short story about a woman obsessed with seashells, and the reader right before me read a poem about seashells! What are the odds?

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Being a writer is hard, but the good things don’t happen without risking the uncomfortable moments. And I think your poem about Atlas is sweet. What dog owner can’t relate?
    And I’d buy the carpet from cranky-pants if the fox came with it. Otherwise, forget it.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. My wife and I just sent our books off to the publisher. While neither of us are social butterflies, I would be more than capable and honored to be able to read some of my works to a live audience. When you featured a photo of yourself on stage talking about your book, I was quite jealous. Your writing is fantastic, and you were totally deserving of the recognition, in my opinion.

    Having my own book signing event would be a dream come true. It would be an opportunity to connect with my readers, share my passion for writing, and showcase my hard work and dedication. I can’t wait to see this dream become a reality.

    As for hitting deer with cars, my body count is two. One I hit when I was 20 years old at low speed and the deer literally rolled across the hood of my 1991 Honda station wagon and ran away. The second one ran into the driver side of my Toyota FJ Cruiser, and because the vehicle had a ton of ground clearance, the deer went underneath the car, causing thousands of dollars in damage. My insurance company was less than thrilled with the repair bill.

    Thanks for another fun blog post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I run an open mic once a month (in person and simultaneously on Zoom – Canadians welcome) and I’m always amazed at the genres we get. We only give positive feedback, no matter what – there’s always something to praise.
    But when I’m reading IRL I too find it harder. I was feeling that I’d chosen entirely the wrong excerpt to read at my book launch, so I abandoned it before I’d finished. Hopeless- because apparently people were enjoying it. One never knows 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Inspired:

    There must be rabbits and seagulls
    and squirrels
    wanting and pleading
    to be terrorized.
    Chased into brush, the air, a tree
    by Dog asleep
    in her bed.
    Quivering lips flash canines
    ivory white and deadly.
    Shuddering limbs pad futile yet,
    unfelt zephyrs stream past.
    Do they run? Do they tease?
    Do they bare their throats in
    Witnessing Dog’s pursuit
    I leave her to struggle
    wondering if this time
    she might catch them.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. That picture of Atlas pairs so perfectly with your poem because of how dogs can go from melt-your-heart sweetness to laugh-out-loud goofy in under five seconds. They enrich our lives and your poem really speaks to what we give them in return. And speaking of animals I still want to know if the fox belongs to the flooring guy. He’s probably tired of talking about it, though. The fox, I mean. I’m sure he gets all kinds of questions about flooring and he just sighs and says, “Look, all I know about is chickens and staying away from British guys in red jackets.”
    I’m also glad the open mic went well. I’ve been to a lot and would be horrified if I realized I had a situation like yours. Thank goodness you had another poem. And thank goodness William Stafford wasn’t there. Although he died in 1993, just a couple of years after I met him at an English department event, so I guess he’s not attending a lot of poetry readings these days.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The fox doesn’t actually look very happy about the whole situation so I think you’re right. And that carpeting looks like many foxes have been wandering around on it. Altogether a pretty terrible ad! Atlas is a life-enricher, that’s for sure❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Atlas’ poem is so filled with love from his fur mom! Unlike that lady whose poem about violence, sex and incest…..awkward! Why post an ad for flooring with a strategically placed fox in the picture and NOT expect any curiosity about said fox? Next time just post the flooring your ride asshole 🤬.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Kudos for putting yourself out there. It’s gotta be a tough thing to do. I do love your poem. Two of our dogs have been regular (every night) dreamers. Sometimes Scout sounded like he was crying and sometimes like he was laughing. Much of the time he was also running.
    Ranger is usually chasing bunnies (Arooo). LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I love that picture of Atlas and the poem was awesome, too! It’s something else to watch dogs dream. When Iggy or Bud start growling or yelping in their dreams, we call their names and wake them. Poor babies! You’re a great fur baby mom, Suzanne! Mona

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Really liked your Atlas poem. As an “outside” telephone company repair person I’ve met lots of dogs, mostly with their owners away, and I’m always amazed at their interactions with people. Maybe Atlas was dreaming that you were at an open mic and bombed. Poor guy.
    As for the carpet store owner, I’m amazed but not really surprised by the depressingly common Internet protocol snark opening salvo, “Read the ad.” There are so many ways you COULD have responded. You showed remarkable restraint, I thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It takes courage to put yourself out there, and that is something to keep in mind. Anything can happen when you get into one of these live readings, and there’s no way to control what other’s are going to say or do. Keep on doing what you’re doing, because you’re work is fantastic! Love the poem about Atlas, too. He’s very photogenic. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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