For someone with limited publication experience, there’s little better than an editor asking you to submit a particular poem. It’s not exactly an ego boost (“submit that poem now thanks” doesn’t mean “you’re amazing” so much as it means “that poem won’t make my journal look bad”). But as a near miss it also prevents the extreme discomfort brought on by direct praise.
I read “Telemachy” at the floorshow, held by the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin, back in January 2011. Someone sat through it thinking, “Well, this isn’t entirely shit.” I’m probably being overgenerous—’not shit’ is high praise coming from an Irish mind—but the poem appeared in the inaugural issue of Bare Hands Poetry last October and is now available in audio on the Bare Hands Soundcloud collection.
I have an ambivalent relationship with readings. My preparation usually includes (1) looking up pronunciations for those words I foolishly used without having heard them muttered by another human, which should serve as an indication that my diction needs work but which I usually ignore; and (2) frantically getting drunk before it’s my turn to read. I also have an ambivalent relationship with recordings, which I use exclusively as a revision aid to defamiliarize a poem so I can better hear its rhythms, stresses, and other sound patterns you could classify blobularly as ‘assliteration.’ Yes, this involves sitting by myself listening to a recording of myself reading my own poems. Yes, that’s extremely masturbatory, which is precisely why I do it alone and delete the sound files afterward as if they were a sordid internet history.
(Poetry as a quasi-sexual experience? More on this here.)