Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reading in front of parents and friends

I used to dread the idea of reading in my hometown. The idea gave me the willies. Reading in front of people from my past? Or worse, my parents? I don't think so.

On Saturday I read at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, the town where I grew up. My mother said she wouldn't miss it, though I suggested it might be too much for her to go. It was strange but sweet to be standing up in front of her. She’s 91, and I am sure she was secretly terrified that I would embarrass her. I was a terrified, too. She sat there in her wheel chair, in the middle of the room, the sun on her white hair, looking amazed. Afterwards, she wanted me to read the poems for her again in the privacy of her own room. Then she had me mark off all the poems I had read. She particularly liked the poems about herself. Yes, she would say, nodding. Yes. That sounds like me.


Valerie Loveland said...

Although she is happy for me when I get published, my mom has never had a good reaction to my actual poems.

I think it's actually good for me because I don't have to worry what my mom would think while I'm writing a poem.

Leslie said...

Dear Ms. Andrews:

My name is Leslie Birdwell and I'm the editor of the Ohioana Quarterly , the book review journal of the Ohioana Library Association ( Could you please e-mail me at lbirdwell AT We'd like to get in touch.



Justin Evans said...

Not that you know me from anyone, but:

The one official reading I have done (I live 120 miles from the nearest city)was in front of about 25 people. All but two were related to me. I know what you mean by freaking out because of relations.

Ellen Goldstein said...

I came across your blog from Lorcaloca and it leapt from the page because, I too just read at my poems for the first time at the Virginia Festival of the Book, in my hometown of Cville.

Fortunately my mother is hard of hearing and missed some of it! But kidding aside, the only other time I read in front of her (before she was hard of hearing) I gave her a prepared speech about how poets make things up and then she helped me with my presentation before the event and made no comments on the poems themselves. Thank god.