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.
1 month ago