Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lessons learned from my first Miami Book Fair poetry reading

I know not all venues are like the Miami Book Fair but I learned so much just from this first experience that I thought I'd share what I gained from it; I also want to remind myself what worked for me and what didn't for next time (if there is one!):
  • Hydrate your throat.  Bring a bottle of water--the hosts didn't provide one at the tables and the lights shining on us were HOT!  (This is Miami.)  Also, make sure you have shine-blotting paper on hand or wear lots of make-up because those lights make you look pale (and scared!).  Singers suggest warm honey and/or potato chips (something salty) to smooth the voice. 
  • Bring a clean copy. Bring two copies of your book--one to show, prop up on the table or have pictures taken with, the other to read from.
  • Facilitate page access. Read directly from your book but use some sticky tabs to mark your pages--I noticed several readers hunting around for pages while I was able to transition smoothly from one poem to the next by using color-coded sticky tabs with a keyword from the title on each one so I could see which poem was where. 
  • Consolidate your notes. All your notes should be stapled inside your book so as to not be noticeable--print them out on a separate sheet and then staple or tape it inside your book (cut down to size if necessary) at the same orientation so you don't have to hold your book sideways!  If you want to make a few remarks before each poem, write them at the top of the page on which the poem begins.
  • Avoid fumbling. Do NOT use loose sheets with your poems printed in large print unless you have rock solid nerves because your hands may tremble.  Some people suggested this and it sounded like a good idea at the time, but I'm glad I decided to read directly from the book.  Most of the other writers did, also.  On that note, make sure you use the book during all your practice runs.  Make sure the page turns occur at a natural pausing time in the poems that run over more than one page.
  • Manage your time. Know exactly how long it will take you to read each poem; that way you can mix and match them and know how long you will be reading.  Your watch can fail you and the reading venue may not have visible clocks.  Do NOT read over your time limit and keep in mind that things rarely begin at the exact time, so you have to subtract that time from your reading accordingly.
  • Communicate enjoyment. Remember to smile and act like you are enjoying yourself (if your acting skills are up to it!)
  • Connect. Bring business cards or their equivalent to hand out to the other poets you connect with or fans.
  • Be grateful.  Thank everyone involved in the reading and/or preparing the venue and learn the volunteers' names so next time you can greet them by name! (I hope I remembered to thank the room host in my case.  He was really nice; not only did he pinch-hit when our presenter didn't show up but he also put us at ease and asked the first question during the Q & A. Unfortunately, I did not remember to get his name!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

2015 Miami Book Fair International presentation

I read from Shining from a Different Firmament at the Miami Book Fair International last weekend!  It was a great experience but that smile on my face is the pure happiness of relief after it was over!  It was the first time I'd read my poetry in public and doing so at the largest book festival in the U.S. probably wasn't the brightest idea in the world!  But I'm glad to say I survived, met and heard some great poets read (Julie Marie Wade, Kay Ryan, Juan Felipe Herrera, among others) and even glimpsed some celebrities up close!  (John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez were talking about their memoirs in the same building and I saw them as they were escorted to the authors' lounge.) 

After the talk, the weather had cleared and we came out into a beautiful evening as the book fair volunteers began wrapping things up.  I grabbed some mementos, including the sign from my autographing table!  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pay Attention Journal acceptances; FIU News; #100!!

Pay Attention Journal just accepted two of the longer (read: hard-to-place) pieces in my chapbook:  "Her Last Cotillion" (about Doc Holliday's cousin) and "Richard the Lionheart's Mummified Heart Examined."
 Pay Attention is an annual, print literary journal founded to print verse that makes for dynamic reading performances.
The mission on the journal, in particular, is to collect and promote high quality poetry that may be performed on the high school and college forensics circuits and taught in classrooms that feature the oral interpretation of poetry.

I was in Forensics in high school and I also had difficulty finding material I was comfortable with, so I ended up writing my own and performing in the "Original" category.  I'm happy to know my work may be performed by others!

I never would have found Pay Attention without using Duotrope, which I can't recommend enough!
Duotrope helps you find the perfect fit for your poetry or fiction.

From the Editor:
To tell the truth, these two poems
epitomize what I’m hoping to collect in the journal. I love the
interesting voices you’ve created and the precise images you’ve filled
these poems with. It’s very clear that you knew what I was looking for
in forensics-worthy pieces.

I will probably read one of these pieces at my Miami Book Fair International poetry reading, which was advertised in this FIU News story yesterday!  Many thanks to Ashley Garcia for the great article (and publicity!)  I wasn't joking about wanting an empty room to read to, though!  As my reading takes place at the same time as Rosie Perez and John Leguizamo's talks, not to mention Brian Weiss' of Many Masters, Many Lives fame, I doubt I have much to worry about!

(P. S. This is my 100th post!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015