Helen and Teacher

Helen and Teacher
The Story of my Life

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What to do at a Reading

I did a reading tonight with some friends at our local library. There is a community program done every year called Read Local. Tonight, I read with three other women. As is often the case, a theme runs through the poetry. Tonight was autumn, Sylvia Plath, women accused of witchcraft, law, and religion. I read from With Love from Tin Lizzie about masks and automatons and from my chapbook, Sappho, I should have Listened. Poets were reading their title pieces, so I read the actual poem “Sappho, I should have Listened.” We read poems from different parts of our writing careers, and gave an idea of the structure of our books. For women falsely accused of sorcery, I read “The Blood Countess/ For Erzebet” I note that those who wrote historical fiction had a few notes about the history that inspired them. Others, including me, gave brief biographies of the women they wrote about and why they inspired them. I think a little background whets the audience’s appetite. We also brought copies of our books to display, exchange, and sell. Students of writing often introduce themselves, eager to join groups and get ideas. Ironically, a local poets group was meeting across the hall from where we did the reading. Read Local is a good way for local writers to become aware of each other. There are programs like it everywhere, and LinkedIn features groups for writers of all types. You can join as many groups as you want online and commiserate and get ideas. On another note, I picked up some magazines to read at the library, and one 2003 Doll Reader had an article by our friend Shirley Holub, on doll hospitals. She writes the Doll Hospital series for Scholastic Books. For those who write memoir, there are several new biographies and memoirs on the shelves, including one by Shirley Jones, where “Mrs. Partridge” allegedly tells all. Now is the time to get out those holiday ornaments, photos, and old cards. You never know what might trigger a memoir. You might also try a historical prompt, “Where were you when…..” and include a significant historical event that affected you.

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