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experience: the deflowering

June 2, 2009

Last night, I participated in a reading, the second installment of “Bookmarks: The Memoir Project Reading Series” in The Arts Center of the Capital Region’s “black box” (theatre). It was my first time reading in public, the great deflowering. My fellow readers (poets and essayists) were gentle and gracious, and the audience was an attentive group of about 40-50.

I was introduced as “Carolee Sherwood, who knows how to throw one hell of a tantrum,” and I read two poems: “I do not want to write a poem” (the tantrum poem) and “The moon was there the whole time.” After I read the tantrum poem alone, everyone in the room joined me in reading it a second time. It was the idea of the evening’s curator Robyn Ringler (a writer and bookseller), and it was a lot of fun having a chance to participate in a group “performance” of something I wrote.

During the intermission and following the reading, audience members were generous with kind words about my poems– and my hair. The compliments were fairly equal: half poetry, half hair. I guess it doesn’t matter how they remember/recognize me, as long as they do! A familiar face in the audience reported that I seemed confident and looked nice. What more can you ask for your first time out?

The Spring 2009 issue of Blue Fifth Review is out. This edition highlights collaborative work. Jill and I have two pieces in it: “The seamstress turns on herself” and “How to mourn.” Another pal — Jo Hemmant — is alongside us.

I have already received one rejection from the most recent round of submissions. I was (am? still? always?) hormonal and took it hard. I always take it hard, but there are still 20-something poems out there in the world, more getting ready to fly and a manuscript that has begun talking to me again.

  1. June 2, 2009 5:12 pm

    That’s a good-sized crowd. Great, and I love that they liked your hair, too. (It is important.)
    Love, love, love your introduction. Memorable. And being memorable is terrific (of course you are). Those are two of my favorite poems of yours!

    And. I had a rejection yesterday, too. I worked really hard on the poem. It was nearly an instantaneous rejection. Which is both good and bad.

    Congratulations on Blue Fifth. Excellent!


  2. June 2, 2009 5:37 pm

    Sometimes, rejections don’t reflect nearly as much on the quality of the work submitted as on the fact that, for example, they might have been submitted late in the submissions period when the issue was already nearly full. I am just saying. With some publications, submitting early gives you a much better shot. Still, it’s hard not to take it a little bit personally regardless of the circumstances. I just got a rejection from an online magazine last week, and I was all like, “Your loss, suckers! Your magazine is all hipness and no usability in any case. Nyah.”

  3. June 2, 2009 6:17 pm

    deb — thanks for the blue fifth shout-out @ RWP!

    dave — it’s almost as if you have an insider perspective. πŸ™‚ and of course you’re absolutely right about the late in the game stuff. that worried me about the current push: they were all 2-4 days out from the cut-off. took my chances anyway b/c i never know how long i can sustain the push or when it will come again. πŸ™‚

  4. June 2, 2009 6:19 pm

    “i never know how long i can sustain the push or when it will come again.”
    I am the same way – only much, much worse.

  5. June 3, 2009 12:43 am

    God, those two poems at Blue Fifth are just incredible!

  6. June 3, 2009 4:29 am

    The reading sounds wonderful, I wish I could have been there. Don’t worry about the rejections, pft. I’ve only read once and I need to get my arse in gear and do it again……I’ve something planned for July, maybe. Eek.

  7. June 3, 2009 5:46 pm

    Thanks, Dale. I think Jill and I work well together. Did you know that we once wrote a collaborative poem to help us work through something that was coming between us? True story. It was a poem about a half-eaten mouse. I think we affectionately called it, “The Grudge Poem,” although I’m sure it had a far more interesting title than that. We’ll be telling that story someday when we’re famous. Or I’ll be telling it when Jill’s famous. πŸ™‚

    Jo, Yes. Read in July. Do it. I had so much fun, and I’ll definitely do it again. This was a great first one b/c the organizer was very interested in performance and gave great tips on reading for an audience, how to deliver a poem in a way that’s true to the poem (instead of your regular speaking/reading voice). I’m not that good at being in front of people to be comfortable enough to get into character for each poem (yet), but it’s something for me to keep in mind. Hopefully, the intention will influence future readings, too.

  8. Michelle permalink
    June 4, 2009 1:06 pm

    Like Deb said, that’s a good-sized crowd, my friend. Congratulations! Sounds like you passed with flying colours.

    And the poems in Blue Fifth Review, wonderful!

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