The Reading, At Last!

Ok, here it is, finally.

There is a nifty new page on the website which lists all of my appearances (there are others, but the only ones up are the ones written in stone) and under the Maryland reading, there is a link to download the entire reading. It’s a bit quiet, so just make sure you turn up the volume and the quality should be good. For reference, the set list was:

The Oracle at New Haven
The Oracle at Detroit
The Oracle at Chinatown
Song for Three Voices and a Lyre
Descent of the Corn-Queen of the Midwest (unpublished, forthcoming in Mythic Delirium)
The Emperor of Tsukayama Park
The Gold of Kinkakuji

Thread: A Triptych (unpublished short story: forthcoming in Lone Star Stories–you want to hear this one, if nothing else, it’s got a pretty amazing origin story)
Excerpt from Yume no Hon

Click here.

Retroactively blogging about the event:

The reading went very well–there was a surprisingly large turn-out, given that this was mainly a poetry reading, and, you know, it was just me. There were a good 25-30 people there, of all ages. The campus was beautiful in that intentionally-intimidating colonial style, and I only got lost once on the way there, due to mapquest snorting crack for the umpteenth time. Sibylla rode shotgun, and we talked about karmically appropriate cancer and various other amusments. The Magpie herself is very beautiful, though quiet and shy, in the way of most LJ meetups. I picked her up at a big farmhouse in Maryland and we managed our way south without too much mishap.

Now, I had to call my mother to tell her what a good impression I was doing of her on my way to pick up sibylla. I was wearing a black suit and carrying her old grad school laptop case and driving south form Ohio with curlers in my hair. Mom does this all the time–with hair like ours, you have to practically electrocute it into curling, so Mom’s car is always full of spent curlers. But I managed, I hope,  to look something less than frightening on arrival, and feeling rather grown-up due to temporarily possessing my mother’s body and teleporting it to Maryland.

While waiting for the reading to start I talked to Jennifer, who had set up the reading and worked incredibly hard to make it happen–if anything is a compliment, it’s that she cared enough to work for months to find the funding and space and talk the author into coming to her university. Kind of humbling. I hope I didn’t disappoint. I also met a wonderful professor with fabulous hair who talked Buffy and feminism with me for awhile while I tried not to shake in my boots. I’m always terrified at these things–old stage fright kicks up again and I feel like I’m going to throw up or do a header into the punch. It would have been slightly easier if one of my editors, oldcharliebrown, hadn’t also been in attendance. But c’est la vie.

I think I was a bit rocky at first–some of the Oracle poems are better read, some are better spoken, and I’m still figuring out which ones are which through reading iterations. Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas are definitely out-louders. I think New Haven is a reader. Several of these poems I had never read in public before, but as it went along, I think things got smoother. The audience seemed to respond to the Japanese poems–I could see someone in the back smiling and nodding; he came up to me afterward and told me about his travels to Kyoto.

Thread was probably the highlight of the reading. I could feel the energy in the room when I read it and there were a lot of questions about it afterward. It is an as-yet unpublished short story about Greek immigrants and the story of Ariadne, but it is also about my husband’s great-grandmother and her harrowing experience (all explained in the mp3), and is dedicated to her. In some ways it’s easier for me to read fiction aloud–I slip into the old acting mode and it becomes a monologue with beats and breaks and all the rest. Of course, some of my fiction is harder to read than this, which is very close and dear to me. I almost didn’t read the Yume excerpt, because it’s hard to get up and move on to something lighter after the story of Thread, and I could tell that most people wanted to breathe afterwards but the show must go on and all that jazz. I didn’t realize until I read her post that sibylla had been moved to tears.

Funnily enough, the first question was about The Descent of Inanna, which I’ve never read in public, but should probably arrange to do so once the book is out. There was a little reception with punch and food outside, and then sibylla and havelyard and I went out for Korean food, which is close enough to Japanese to make me squee–and lo and behold, the delicious little smoked whole fish were placed in front of me like manna. Havelyard is quite the conversationalist, and has a marvelous accent, so I got to reminiscence about both Japan and England. I wish that I could have talked to both of them more, but particularly sibylla. Time is never enough.

I got home around 1 am to a creepily silent house, having left the dogs in Ohio. It was hard to get to sleep in all that quiet. But the next day I got the distinct pleasure of taking myself out to Italian pasta by the sea and paying with money from the last night’s book sales. Writing put food directly into my belly, which makes it  automatically the best food ever invented. And the waitress even gave me free tiramisu.

All in all, one of the better times I’ve had.

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