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.
Hi! Fellow writer here who just found this. Good for you for doing your first reading! It definitely takes guts to put yourself out there. I’m disappointed you’re not sharing your poem on here but if you ever want to publish it elsewhere that’s probably for the best. I read at a lot of open mic nights in college and I personally found that watching performance poetry on YouTube–specifically spoken word–gave me some good examples of strong poetry reading if you’re looking for some, though everyone certainly has his or her own style.
Hi Nancy, Thanks for the encouragement. I hadn’t thought of looking on YouTube, but I will now – thanks for the advice.