Reading

Maybe it’s bad form to admit this, as a hopeful poet, but my second professional appearance as a poet will be at Kenyon, and I haven’t been able to sleep because of that for the last three nights. There’s a reason I’m writing this at 5 in the morning. My first appearance is on January 16 at Cincinnati Country Day School, where I’ll be reading from Honeyvoiced and leading a generative poetry workshop––thank you, Julie Sheehan, for your Teaching Practicum last semester.

I can say nothing but good things about Kenyon, and I feel, theoretically, nothing but wonderful things about reading there on the 21st. In practice though, I’m having a hard time mustering up enough chutzpah to pretend like reading fragments there officially is just as easy as reading at an open mic in the Horn Gallery on a rainy October evening for KR’s 2013 Harvest Festival. I’ve read fragments there at Gund Commons on November 14 and 15 (again 2013) for a friend’s comps which was, undoubtedly the defining moment for Honeyvoiced as a manuscript, since it got me more than I could ever ask for. That was slightly more momentous, but I got through it just fine. Yet, thinking about reading at the Kenyon Bookstore, where I spent most of my time and money from 2010 to 2014, where I met such amazing people as Josh Radnor (that one time we ran into each other at the poetry section and I was reaching for a copy of Byron over his head and had no idea who he was till afterwards) and Dan Poppick, is freaking me right the hell out. Why? I have no idea. I couldn’t ask for a better venue, I know it better than I do my own house––a better, more knowledgeable, or friendlier bookseller, or a better audience on that Wednesday night: everyone who shows up will either have taught me, have had a class with me, know me, have scrambled to order from the Cove at 1:59 in the morning with me while we were so drunk that the lack of buttons on our phones would have been more of a detriment to our craving for mac and cheese wedges if speed-dial, or two magical words Call Cove and voice recognition hadn’t existed, or knows someone who did. This will be an audience made up of people whom I love, of friends, poets, and artists. They’ll be a who’s who of all (but two) of the dedications sprinkled throughout Honeyvoiced.  One of my favorite poets will sit alongside someone with whom I spent a good third of Sendoff figuring out the order for the fragments, and who said one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard: there are some people you love that you give flowers to, and other people you love that you drink wine with. She, I think, happens to be both.

A warmer welcome can’t be hoped for anywhere, and I’m still freaking out about it. Honeyvoiced, for all its Ancient Greek dress, is a book about Kenyon. It was conceived here, written here, dedicated to muses who go here; it was recited here, and published here, and I’m glad I’m reading it here. But it’s 5:30 in the morning on a Monday––the first day of Spring semester at Kenyon, and there’s so much anxiety-based adrenaline running through me, that I can’t go to sleep.

And my next reading at Southampton in March? It’s going to be more of this unbelievable cocktail that is two parts gratitude and love and one part anxiety.

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