I have a poetry chapbook, First Snow Coming, which was published last fall by Kattywompus Press, an excellent small literary press in Boston. Coincidentally, my Syracuse poet friend Elinor Cramer had a chapbook, Mayflower, published around the same time by Red Bird. We thought it might be interesting, since our books came out at the same time, to do a joint reading together. Actually I have Elinor to thank for the publication of First Snow Coming, because it was she who first suggested I submit my manuscript to Kattywompus Press.

Yesterday I did a joint reading with my friend Elinor at the Cazenovia Public Library (conveniently located just down the street from my house!). The reading went quite well and was surprisingly well attended. There must have been close to sixty people there, which is a pretty big showing for a poetry reading. The audience was attentive and appreciative. A very friendly atmosphere prevailed, and I felt mostly relaxed and confident in my reading. I read first, followed by Elinor. Afterward we signed books and chatted with people, and then later my wife Heidi and I hosted a get-together at our house with wine and desserts.

Reading these poems for this audience gave me a whole new, and rather unexpected, experience of them. To read them aloud, to those people (and this felt to be crucial, i.e., that I was reading to someone, to particular real human beings), made me feel I was experiencing the poems anew, seeing and feeling them in a new way, as if they suddenly were fraught with new and deeper feeling and significance than I had known before. A couple of times I had to slow down and speak with great deliberateness because I was afraid I might start choking up while I was reading. The audience responded with great enthusiasm and interest, and I had a feeling of being attuned to those folks, a comforting and uplifting sense of group unity. I am so very, very grateful to everyone who came and listened and took an interest in the poems.

Elinor has been talking about possibly doing another reading together at a bookstore in Oswego. I would be up for it if the arrangements work out. We’ll see.

Now I’m getting ready to head out to the Icelandic Writers Retreat in Reykjavík. I will have some interesting things to report about that, I´m sure. Check back with me…

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