Reading at the Ceili

No one wanted to hear poetry just then.
Breathless from “Walls of Limerick,” the dancers
scattered about the hall in search of beer,
a bathroom break, or a smoke outside.
The rest talked loudly, exultant
with exertion, their mixed voices echoing
to the pitched knave of the cavernous former church.
But it was my turn, so I stepped forward,
poem in hand. There was no microphone,
so I raised my strong voice
and bellowed out the lines. No one noticed,
and my words drifted upward
like diaphanous incense without a scent.
I thanked my audience and backed away,
relieved no one had noticed my straining performance,
although my mother and stepfather clapped politely,
which made two musicians look up, curious
that anyone would applaud them tuning their strings.


Nudge: Write about a difficult reading you’ve given: poetry or fiction or anything else you’ve had to read before a group of people. High school classrooms count. If you can’t recall such an occasion, write about a reading you heard–perhaps a well-known author reading at a bookstore or a child reading scripture at a service. If you still don’t have a clue, write about the “reading” presented by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in the video above.


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