You know the story that ends, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs to get a prince"? I sometimes think of this as a metaphor for poetry readings. Some just work out better than others. Occasionally one makes you wonder why you do readings. Occasionally one reminds you why you give readings and how wonderful they can be. That, I'm happy to say, was my experience this past Saturday night in Lambertville, NJ.
I was invited by Vasiliki Katsarou to read at Panoply Books, a charming used books store owned by Roland Boehm. I was very much looking forward to the reading as it was my first NJ reading from my new book, Temptation by Water. Vasiliki made a beautiful flier which she posted around town and in the store. She also emailed it to me so that I could use it to invite people. She also posted the reading at Facebook and Twitter.
I was hoping for maybe ten people to show up, so was delighted when we had somewhere between 20-25. Considering the size of the store, that was a big crowd, standing room only! What a fabulous audience they were! Attentive, engaged with the poems, not one person working on her own poems.
I read ten poems in the order in which they appear in the book. That allowed me to talk a bit about the structure and motifs of the book. Then we had a Q&A, something I always enjoy after a reading. Vasiliki provided a lovely spread of snacks—crackers and cheese, some kind of filo dough hors d'oeuvre, grapes, Prosecco. So people had some nice munchies after the reading. I sold and signed books and continued the conversation a bit longer.
Then I went home and slept like a baby.
Lambertville is one of those artsy towns with lots of bookstores, antique shops, and art galleries, sort of an old world feel to it. Did I mention that this is where Gerald Stern lives?
Every second Saturday of the month the stores stay open late, so there were lots of people milling about. Some of them wandered in during the reading and lingered for a poem or two.
The outside of Panoply Books
The interior, back room where I read
Me reading, looking somewhat spectral, feet of some audience members—photo taken by Ray Brown who brought 5 people with him which is one reason why I'm a big Ray Brown fan
Causes Diane Lockward Supports
The Frost Place
The Innocence Project