Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Letter to an Author After Yet Another Event Where the Story Problem of How Many Poems Can Be Read in Fifteen Minutes Is Answered Wildly Incorrectly

Dear Author,

            Thank you for your thought-provoking reading.  It was nice of you to take time from your busy schedule.  I know you must be swamped because even though this event had been advertised for weeks, you hadn’t had a chance to pick out and mark what you were going to read.
            I’m sorry the person who introduced you mispronounced your name and book.  That clearly was annoying, or maybe you were grimacing about something else.  Although she was trying to do her best, I understand that you’re important enough she should have gotten it right.  I would have been irritated as well if I was someone like you.
            I’d also like to apologize for the cell phone that went off, although it wasn’t mine.  This seems to happen at every event nowadays, so you would think it wouldn’t be so surprising and upsetting, but I guess it still is.  Hopefully that man learned his lesson when you stopped and stared – or should I say glared! You showed him what you thought! Well done!  -- and then you rightly started over.
            I’m glad that one person said yes when you asked if you could read one more piece.  Was that your spouse or a friend?  It was sweet.  I know that a lot of people wanted to go at that point since the event was supposed to have been over long before, but it’s good to know that there are still some of us willing to be polite and wait for the end.  And, how nice of you to ask rather than just going ahead and reading another one.  It made it feel like you were giving us the chance to urge you on if we had wanted to.  In fact, thank you for making sure that we got our money’s worth – even though we didn’t pay anything – by reading for twice as long as we thought you were going to.  You so generously gave us so much of your work that we didn’t feel like we had to buy the book afterwards.  After all, we had just heard the audio version, done by the author.
            Thank you also for explaining some of your pieces before hand so that we “got” them, particularly the ones that you said wouldn’t make sense otherwise.  It would have been embarrassing to sit there and not understand what you had decided to read because it wasn’t something we could “get” just by hearing it.
            I also appreciate the way you pointed out your awards, prizes, and accomplishments.  I wouldn’t have known to be as impressed with those pieces if you hadn’t told me how good other people had already found them.  I enjoy being “tipped off.”
            I’m enclosing an article. Don’t worry; it’s not one I wrote. You made it clear how much that annoys you by being so abrupt to that young girl who had been waiting to speak to you.  No, it’s just advice on public speaking that I cut out of a magazine.  I thought you would find it funny since it’s so wrong-headed; you don’t do almost any of what it says to do.  That must be one of the great things about being a writer.  You get to do what you want rather than worrying about what an audience wants.
            I am definitely going to recommend your book the next time I find a person who is interested in the kind of thing you do.


A Listener

1 comment:

  1. As someone who has been hosting poetry readings for several years, I can think of dozens of poets who should have this tattooed on their forearm, like in the movie Memento.