• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I’ll Never Have That Recipe Again



I’ve been doing a lot of readings and events lately. And every time the exact same thing happens. In the two hours before the event, I become extremely irritable. It’s super convenient when my mother comes with me because I can take it all out on her. But either way, I feel a kind of free-floating churlishness, my inner monologue is hideous. Sometimes I even scare myself silently mouthing off to people who happen to fall in my path, taking too long fishing for coins in their purse, scrolling on their phone with an obnoxiously articulated thumb swipe, etc. By the time the reading starts, I’m a kitten. Then I get a bag of Swedish Fish on the way home.

What was your worst reading experience (either that you gave or saw).


6 Responses

  1. OMG so many!

    In the 80’s I was taking poetry from Pesha Gertler at the UW and at the end of the course was the obligatory reading. A woman in class (who has since published a bunch of successful cookbooks!) got up on stage in the auditorium and started reading a poem about her grandfather. She started to cry and instead of stepping off just stood up there bawling I mean it was cool and everything but sort of like those “c’mon what’s the worst that could happen?” moments.

    I once gave a reading at a local library where that guy who wrote “Racing in the Rain” also read. Anyway I was being a total HAM and I started the reading (which was dumb, about a friend and I getting arrested for breaking into my boarded up elementary school) by holding up my ghetto blaster like John Cusack (I am soooo in love with him despite his movie choices!) in “Say Anything” with a tape playing commercials for “Saving Grace” (I know I’m using quotation marks wrongly) that show with Holly Hunter who I also love (watch her in “Thirteen”) but this monologue is SO PHONY!!! It drives me INSANE!

    Anyway…nothing had anything to do with anything that reading was a culture pulverizer with boring non-fiction: the end.

  2. The AWP panel moderator who had a total flat affect and spoke away from the microphone is up against the guy who wrote poetry about vampires.

  3. Huh. Kinda relieved we’re not having lunch together before your reading today.

  4. My worst reading experience is the next one on the calendar. For days before the event I get to experience the humiliation of forgetting how to talk, read and think before a jury of my peers. Lots of laughs.

  5. “What was your worst reading experience (either that you gave or saw).”

    It was a poetry slam. I hated poetry slams (past tense — it’s been years since I slammed any poetry). I much preferred open mikes but slams were the rage and so there I was, lying to myself about being or not being on an ego trip.

    Why do we writers sometimes — often? ever? — pretend we’re not on ego trips? Isn’t that the whole point of being a writer?

    Anyway, the poetry slam. I’d brung along a rhymed critter that had been sitting around a while, growing mold. It was a profane ditty with a late-growth feminist bloom. No rose, that.

    Here, here’s the first stanza:

    No. I can’t. I won’t.

    Anyway, the slam. I read the thing, and it wasn’t too long a poem or performance or slam or elevator fart, but it was long enough for one table of listeners — this was at a bar, a poetry-and-beer slam night — one table of three or four to get up and leave, shooting me angry looks on their way out the door. And if you know the poetry slam thing, you know the readers’ performances are graded on a scale of 1 to 10. I’ll let you guess which end of the scale my performance ended up on, or falling off of.

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