The special fear of reading your poetry to non-poetry folks
Poetry readings (after you get through your first one) tend to be places of comforting familiarity. Typically there will be a mixed showing of pieces which are inspirational, boring, raw and much too long. And that is great, because you are in a community which you know; you understand the world you in. Everyone has an agreement about the parameters of the night. We’ll all clap politely, maybe drink too much wine, but generally uplift everyone who was brave enough to read.
Now of course, while reading in front of people can be nerve wracking, at least you know you’re among friends of poetry. I have never read my work aloud to a group of non poetry-heads. I have never even considered attempting such a feat; however, come this Wednesday I will be standing up in a little bookshop in front of a group of people who not every opened or simply picked at a poetry book.
The thought is…scary.
I don’t mind public speaking, but it has been quite awhile since I’ve put my work to the test in such a unfamiliar environment. My friends from my rugby team and elsewhere are incredibly sweet, but what will those outside of the poetry world think of verse? The idea that they may be even more critical of my little poems has certainly passed my mind. I am not sure how my reading will go or if anyone will buy my book, but one thing is certain: this is a hurdle I am going to have to jump over. There is no way around it.
And in the end, isn’t it better to share poetry, to put it to the test rather than hide it away?