Reading out loud

You find the boxy room at the rear of the bar. The bartender had regarded you in a strange way when you’d asked for this meeting room: for the room where the poetry readings are held.

A gloomy corridor. And then, in you go and whoa – it’s full of strangers. You feel the need to attain a low profile as rapidly as possible. Only three seats are not taken and they’re at the front. You edge through thinking: what are they thinking? Who’s he? Your right hand goes to the two sheets of folded A4 in your bag. You’ve brought these sheets because the event announcement had said “Open Mic” after a guest reader. But now you wonder if gladiators felt like this before entering the arena, where they would declaim their best two odes – and wait – and wait – looking at the audience’s thumbs and which direction they were heading. Well, OK it would have been an ancient theatre.

Perhaps the woman in the fourth seat of the front row, who’s now next to you, also has a sheet of scrawled verse ready for reading. You turn and smile. Later, she will applaud more-than-politely at your “open mic” reading and you will be glad you made the attempt. Even promise to yourself that this perhaps should be something repeated regularly.

The main guest then reads a selection of poems from his newly-launched collection. Half an hour later your opportunity comes …

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There are lots of local groups like this in everyone’s local area. In my case, most recently it was Ben Barton’s “The Hospital” from Cultured Llama Publishing. Very moving.

Reading out loud is one of the most important stages in a new poem’s life, when it’s born in the arena before the lions of amateur critics. Some examples of local groups for this author include:


© Copyright Clifford Liles,  April 2019

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