Last week, I did the first ever public reading of my work. It was at the monthly meeting of the Cardiff Humanists group, to which I’ve been going for more than a year now (Cardiff Humanists). The theme for this month’s meeting was ‘Poems & Pints’ (the meetings are held upstairs in the Rummer Tavern, opposite the castle).
I’m not really a poet. I did write some poetry when I was a teenager, but when I took up the guitar and started writing music, I moved from poetry to song lyrics. But when I heard the Cardiff Humanists were doing a poetry night, I thought that I ought to have a go. My natural instinct would be to hide in the shadows and let the more out-going people enjoy the attention. But writers are expected to be comfortable reading their work out to groups of people. And while my first novel may not have found a publisher, the second is well on its way, and it’s going to be better and, I hope, more saleable than the first. So I thought it was about time I discovered whether I stand any chance of coping with the publicity events I’ll undoubtedly be expected to attend should I be fortunate enough to get published.
I was a little nervous, and very tempted to keep my head down; not let on that I’d brought something to read out. I know most of the people there a bit now, but that didn’t make it any easier. In fact, it probably made it more difficult – it can be easier when you’re addressing strangers. I felt somewhat isolated too, because it turned out I was alone amongst the group in reading my own work (I had hoped there might be at least one other writer there!) So it felt like I was sticking my neck out a bit. I imagined people might think I was being pretentious.
I think the reading went reasonably well, and I got some good feedback on the poem. I was a bit timid, a bit too flat, too serious, and I know I didn’t look up nearly enough. But it’s a start. With more practice, I think I should be able to develop a more confident reading style, and learn to properly engage with an audience. I suppose the next step would be to get myself down to an open mic poetry night somewhere. I will just have to run off a few poems first…
PS: I’m not going to reproduce my Atheist-themed poem (called, ‘Things I’d like to say to the Aggressively Religious’) here, for fear of upsetting any of you who might be un-aggressively religious.