Friday, October 22, 2010

Live reading dos and don'ts

We held our photography presentation and reading from our book The Emerging Goddess last night, and I think for a first time, it went very well.

About a week before I decided that we needed a script so that we’d have no fumbling during the event. And that was the best decision. I picked out a few poems initially, and then Paul, the photographer, came over and together we picked out the images. Since several poems went with the images we picked, we added those poems too. In the end we selected eleven poems – some attached to particular images and some not.

I had asked our son Ben and his wife Marissa – since they are professional actors -- to participate in the reading, and they decided to ask one of their actor friends Tracey to join in. So after I sent them the list of poems and the order of presentation, Ben organized who would read certain poems. I read poems 1 and 10, and they read the rest.

The venue for the reading couldn’t have been more perfect. I feel so fortunate that {Pages}: a bookstore, relatively new in Manhattan Beach, agreed to host. The space is long and narrow but there was plenty of room for a reception, a table for drinks and refreshments, and the reading area. And the people at Pages knew exactly how to set it up. The readers sat on big leather armchairs facing an audience sitting on folding chairs in the middle of the room.

Though I didn’t count I think about thirty people attended.

I think one of my greatest lessons from last night was that in the future I cannot rely on RSVPs when planning an event. Many people who said they would or maybe attend didn’t, and many people who didn’t RSVP showed up. Since I thought at the outset that we could expect close to fifty people, I bought enough cheese, crackers and fruit for that many. Paul also brought enough wine. And we were way wrong. We ended up with a lot of leftover food. I didn’t mind the leftovers because our son happily took them home, but I did mind all the schlepping. Parking is hard in that part of downtown Manhattan Beach, and I couldn’t park far from the store with all the stuff I had to carry. So that’s a big lesson. Don’t buy too much food and drinks.  Maybe my rule of thumb for future readings will be to buy no more than I can carry in one trip from the car.

But, looking back at it, I think we were a huge success. And, we sold some books.  

I even talked with the owner of Pages about another poetry reading from The Great American Poetry Show, the anthology I co-edit, after the first of the year. 

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