On Readings

Every month we in Wyoming have an MFA reading. This means students read. Visiting writers come from time to time to read too. Charles Baxter, for instance, is coming to read tomorrow, at 7pm, at Second Story Books. You should come. I’m not sure what he’ll read, but I’m excited. I finished A Relative Stranger last week. It was great. I read Feast of Love years ago. That too was great.

Baxter is not part of the monthly readings.

My last post noted that there was a reading last Friday. I have no pictures this time, unfortunately, but highlights include an essay detailing salmon-cutting, factory style, in Alaska; blood; guns; an essay about family, eyes, and the general coming-to-terms with violence; fate; a novel excerpt (mine) about bathrooms, among other things; some poems about place and a lost child; bourbon; reefer and wine, a song; resignation. Most of these things were read. Some were just at the reading, which was nice. I always love seeing students read. My colleagues always make me want to write better.

I guess what I wonder is if everyone is as nervous reading as I am. I’ve done it twice, is all. My stomach twisted more this time than the last time. Writers have got to be nervous. I don’t imagine writers write thinking that the words will one day be read aloud.

My parents almost came to the reading. I think that, had they been there, I would have read something different. I would have read something sweeter, maybe.

Ben Marcus told me last year that he still gets nervous while reading. This made me feel good. Keep it short, he said, and read loud.

It was short enough. Probably it was loud enough too.

Thanks, Ben.

You more or less need to get used to reading, I suppose. You need to get used to standing in front of people and being some other person. Maybe it’s not so different from teaching, or from being in a workshop. Next time I read, I want to do so lying down, facing the ceiling. I want to read like I’m dead.

Thanks for coming out, people.

Charles Baxter tomorrow–seriously.


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