I Read a Poem

Yesterday, I read a poem.

Out loud, to a poetry class.

Oh, I’m hooked.

It was wonderful to hear them talk about it, with me right there. To be a “fly on the wall,” listening to them interpret what I had just read, hearing them relate. Everyone related– but they all saw such different things!

I was given the copies they had written on with comments and suggestions for revision.

And I seriously want to make the poem better, to change it. To expand it. To pare it down.

It was just something I had scribbled, with no revision. But they got the rhythm of it.

First, I read it. They said I read too fast, that I should slow down so they could “see” the images.

Then, as per our teacher’s request, someone else read it. (This is standard procedure.)

In our class, we talk about the poet as “the speaker”– because the voice in which we write is not necessarily our own voice. It could be a character.

That distance between the poet and the “speaker” is wonderful.

I like being not just a writer, but a “speaker.”

I liked facing people, reading out loud and seeing their reactions.

It’s the closest thing I can get to imagining what it must be like to be a musician. To play an instrument to a live audience, and have them relate immediately back to you.

Writing is so solitary. You rarely get to watch people react. I don’t see my readers– only if they choose to “like” my post or write a comment. My subscription list is growing, but the majority are silent.

I enjoy it all, the same.

Everyone in the room had such a different viewpoint. You never know by looking at someone what their story is, how their intelligence is manifested, or what you can learn from them.

Then another woman in the class read her poem– and we talked about hers, too.

Afterward, I talked to her individually about what I liked, and how I thought she could make it even better. It was so clear that she felt enormous relief in standing up there, reciting it out loud.

She listened to me eagerly. It felt so good to talk to someone about writing. It felt good that she cared what I thought.

I don’t know if I could ever love another human as much as I love writing, and sharing it.

As much as I love the feeling of watching people work through language, swimming in it.

Oh, words. How they embrace me.

Afterward, I stayed and talked with the teacher.

She asked me, “And now what will you do?”

A delightful question I’m still pondering.

When class was over, it was snowing. And I was thankful for the heat in my car.

I had a nearly two hour drive home in traffic, but I was floating.

Words, words, words.


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