Reading to Small Audiences

I write this from a motel in Iola, Kansas where I just gave a very meaningful reading, at least for me and the hopefully for the five people who attended. Last week, I read at a Borders in North Kansas City where three people came. When I imagined giving readings years ago, I didn’t quite see this coming, but now that I’m reading here and there for very small audiences, I’m finding it’s actually quite nice. The people who come are there before they really want to be, and I’m able to give intimate readings where I can see responses on people’s faces up close. The casualness of it also makes for ease in people talking to me about the writing or what I’m writing about, and sharing their reactions and stories.

So here’s to little audiences — although I’m fine with medium and big audiences too — and people to people up close. And here’s to the people who come despite the obvious unpopularity of leaving television, computers, blackberries, wii, and other technology to come out and listen to one traveling poet read.

2 thoughts on “Reading to Small Audiences

  1. Your comments prompted me to remember a summer’s day nearly fifty years ago. The youth of Bethany Lutheran Church in Houston were supposed to meet for a work day. My brother and I were the only ones to show up. Without much enthusiasm, we set to cleaning all the pews.

    About mid-way through the morning, Pastor Leo came into the nave and visited with us. He was supposed to conduct a short devotional. We told him he did not have to. Wisely, he said, “No, y’all are important. Let’s sit down and rest a minute and talk.”

    To this day, I remember sitting on those chancel steps leaning against the lectern with the smell of lemon oil on my hands. He leaned against the pulpit as he used a pencil and a paper cup to illustrate how sin, forgiveness, and our relationship with God can work.

    When I think of all the devotionals and sermons I have listened to over the years, that one stands out as a high point, not because it was the most brilliant thing I ever heard, but because the messenger treated two kids with as much respect and caring as he did hundreds of people gathered for worship on a Sunday morning.

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