The poetry readings that I give these days are few and far between. But when I do give a recital – as I did as part of the Wordstock Festival in Collingwood, Ont., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 – I focus on new and unpublished work. In fact, the occasion marked the “first reading” of only those poems that I had composed since the first of the year. They will appear in next year’s collection and probably nowhere else.
So my recital was a literary presentation, not a performance of proven “platform” poems. This fact was appreciated by the audience (largely composed of fellow writers). John Irving reads only from novels in progress. I now do the same for poetry in progress.
Most recitals slip by unnoticed; nobody thinks about them, so the spark is extinguished in the dark maw of history. That did not happen at the Wordstock reading, for one member of the audience was the lively poet (and one-time protégé) Stuart Ross, who has made a name for himself as an innovator and publisher. To my surprise he wrote a column for his blog about the Wordstock reading. It is informative and it recreates the ambience of the event. Here is the link.