Mixed Night at Mia

Just got back from the reading at "Mia." This was my first feature in almost four years -- my first feature since rejoining the poetry world for real in November 2001 -- and it felt great to be back in the saddle. I did 20 minutes of material -- at least I was supposed to do 20 minutes, but I think I went a bit over. I timed it out at 23 minutes at home, but figured I'd be reading faster in a live setting. I'm not sure if I did. The energy level was strange. I got a great reaction to my first few pieces, and then a more muted reaction from then on. People may have felt overwhelmed by the number of poems (I read 12 pieces) or perhaps it was my presentation. I did well at projecting and speaking clearly, and I don't think I overacted or got into the dreaded "poetic sing-song" rhythm. On the other hand, I pretty much did every poem in the same voice, at a similar tempo -- and that may have been the problem. Even when the technique is good, it can get wearing as an audience member if the poet uses the same technique in every poem. I need to get better at reading poems the way the poems want to be read, and not how I want to read them. Still, people's reaction to my work was excellent, (I got many compliments after the reading) and I had a great time performing.

Overall I thought the quality level of the night was rather weak. Even a poet who has previously moved me to tears left me unmoved that night. Of course, it's an open question whether I was an accurate judge -- my adrenalin level might have been so pumped up from performing that everything seemed flat. Still, there were some poets who reached me -- Larry Jaffe did a good reading of his "Unprotected Poetry" poem (version 3.0). Leslie Maryann Neal did an excellent reading of her piece, "Cocksucker." Barbara Dugan did a somewhat slow-paced reading of an excellent poem. (I don't have the title.) There were other poets worth mentioning at the reading, but I didn't take notes. Sue me.

I did get several questions about my "striptease" during the performance. (Personally, I wouldn't call it a striptease.) I started in a jacket, shirt, and tie, and ended up taking off the jacket and tie and rolling up my shirt sleeves. It's either 1) a shtick that's part of my performance, 2) a metaphor for my poetry, or 3) I was working hard and got hot. Take your pick. You can check out a few photos taken by Larry Jaffe that he must have e-mailed me as soon as he got home. (Such efficiency!) He sent one of me with my jacket and onewithout.

The pieces I did were (in order): "Palenque," "Ceviché," "Connoisseur of Silence," "Love Song," "I Write," "I Built This House," "The Sum Of Tears," "Tuesday Morning in the Rain," "Tacos México," "Dem Bones," "Triage Nightmare," and "Walking Down Winston."