Reading #11 – 3/28/2018 – Rowan University Open Mic

This reading was one that I helped coordinate. It was an opportunity for faculty and students to get up and share their work. It unique because I got to hear from students, a set that I don’t usually hear read their work. It made me think of the amount of time that has passed since I was in their shoes, what has happened since then, and unfortunately the time I wasted. For several years I stopped writing, convinced that it was a waste of my time and effort. Maybe it is, but nevertheless I’m glad that I got back into it. I’m grateful for all the people I have met through writing and all of the memories that I have made.

Reading #11 – 3/22/2018 – Chris Kaiser and Cole Bryson

By nightfall, the roads were almost completely devoid of snow or ice – it had been above freezing all day. We piled into the car and went out to hear Chris and Cole read. It was a very low key, relaxed, and welcoming event. Got to hear some great stuff from the featured readers and beyond.

At one point Chris mentioned that all of his poems are in some way ‘political,’ and I think the same could be said for a lot of writers. Even when we are not trying to be political or socially conscious, we can never be fully immune to our envirnment, and the things we see going on in the world. The artist is never fully removed from their surroundings.

This reading makes 4 in March. I’m gonna try to get to one more this month. While my goal of 50 is still very achieveable, I know that I am a few readings behind. In the first two months I attended 4 and 3 readings respectively. I’m shooting to get to 4 readings a month for most months, but 4 x 12 = 48,  just short of my goal, so I think I am about 3 readings ‘behind’ right now. Getting to one more in March puts me at 5 this month, and I am confident that I can catch up on the other readings as the summer sets in.

Thanks for reading!

Reading 10 – 3/18/2018 – Eileen D’Angelo and Nina Israel Zucker

Finally – into double digits! I’m 1/5 of the way to my goal, and what a way to celebrate the milestone. Both readers were incredible, and to hear their stories was awe-inspiring.

However, It was especially nice to see and hear Eileen D’Angelo, the person who basically got me into the poetry ‘scene.’ She was the one who, when I was in college, published one of my poems in the Mad Poets’ Review. She was the one who gave me my first featured reading gig. She was also the one who led me by example through her enthusiasm, warmth, and humility, and taught me that poetry is not just about the words; it is also about creating community. After not having seen her for years, it was so great to reconnect.

I have a few more readings coming up in March, so hopefully this will allow me to get bakc on schedule. February was rough, but things are looking up!

Reading #9 – 3/16/2018 – Ben DeVos and Kailey Tedesco

This time around, Thirty West brought two unique writers to The Big Blue Marble. This was Ben’s first reading, and he shared a short story vividly describing an encounter between roomates. Kailey shared poems dealing with witchcraft. Both of these are topics I am somewhat removed from, yet I found myself fascinated by both.

As I was sitting there, listening to Kailey and Ben read, I was thinking about the importance of hearing new voices and perspectives. I personally feel that writers need to experience things in order to enrich their own work, but I think part of that includes encountering voices outside of what you are familiar with, seeing what inspires them, and learning from their craft. I like to think of it as compiling a tool box – the more tools we have, the more things we can do, and the better we are for it. This reading was definitely enriching, and I thank all those who participated.

Reading #8 – 3/13/2018 – Cole Bryson, Sean Lynch, and Lamont Steptoe

February was pretty rough. Due to life, I only got out to 3 readings and was not overly inspired to write or do much with writing. March, however, is shaping up to be quite different. Especially in the latter half.

Tonight, I went Barnaby’s in West Chester to see the above poets. These readings will be a little different for me this year – since I am helping to organize them, I’m seeing them from a different perspective now. I even had the privilege of picking up Lamont Steptoe, one of the poets who truly inspired me, from the train.

A fun and inspiring event, with some incisive poetry and performance. It was definitely worth the effort.

Reading #7 – 2/18/2018 – Movable Beats, featuring Aaren Perry and Angelo Colavita

Part of the reason why I wanted to do this challenge was to force myself out of my comfort zone and go to new places and experience new perspectives on writing. This was the first time I had attended this particular reading series, and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by many of the people who have and continue to inspire me as a writer.

As I sat there unexpectedly amongst friends, I was reminded of a lesson a martial arts instructor of mine once told me. He said if you go through life as if you know nothing, you will always learn something. It became clear to me that this reading was one of those occassions where just sitting and listening to their work, their stories, their experiences, was exactly what I needed.

Thank you for the reminder about humility.

Reading #6 – 2/15/2018 – Josh Dale and Sarah Maria in Manayunk

I had the privilege of hosting this reading for James, who was abroad. It was an intimate reading, a nice chance to both catch up with existing connections and make new ones. The older I get the more I realize that the social element of writing is so important when deveopling and growing as a writer. To see what others are doing and to discuss our work with them makes such an impact on our ability to hone our own skills.