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Do You Believe In Magic In A Young Girl’s Heart

Just got home from my event at McNally Jackson bookstore in Soho. A finer establishment you couldn’t hope for. On the way back, I polished off two mini Charleston Chews and two mini Peppermint Pattys. I ate one of  the Pattys so fast that I nearly choked, although this did not stop me from stuffing one of the Chews in my face while I was choking. At which point, I started coughing so hard that my right arm fell off and I peed myself slightly.

Thanks to all my friends old and new, and to  all the wonderful nutters who read the blog, who came out.  Thank you so much. It was an okay night. I was nervous. I give  talks all the time, but this was NYC and if you can make it there…I think I finally settled down by the Q&A and was somewhat funny. I always forget that I’m a person of letters and turn into Shecky Greene at these things. Nu?

You know what’s always really uncomfortable: the time you have to wait for the first person to break the ice and ask a question. No matter if I think I have the most brilliant question ever, I never ask it. This goes back to the time in ninth grade when a science teacher said, “There are no stupid questions…until now.” The other thing I’m never going do (again) is volunteer to part of a magic act. No fucking way. Not after what happened at the Century Club.

Sometimes people come up to me and  tell me that my book helped them write their book. That didn’t happen tonight.

Put Another Dime in the Jukebox, Baby

Do any of you actually like going to readings? When I was a freshman at NYU, I took a train uptown to  hear John Ashbery read at Books & Co. on Madison Avenue. It was 1978. The place was packed. I couldn’t see or hear him but it was one of the best nights of my life. The exhilaration of maneuvering the city on my own, the famous store lined with portraits of writers and packed with people dressed in all black. Just being in the presence of one of my favorite poets — who I had discovered on my own —  was fantastic.

I went to tons of poetry readings back then. I was hungrier for the anecdotes and asides that the poets told between poems more than for the actual poems.  I loved listening to the way they pronounced words, took breaths, etc.  I even loved watching a poet take a sip of water. Some would announce that they were going to take a drink. And we would nervously watch them, hoping they wouldn’t spill.  Some trembled as they sipped. Others looked as if they were drinking the blood of Christ.

Then there are all those awkward moments poets have to navigate, especially if people start to clap after a poem and whether that sets a clapping precendent for clapping after every poem. Bad. I hate it when poets hunt and peck for what they’re going to read. If a rock star stoned out of his gourd can put a playlist together, I think a poet can manage mixing up the ballads with the sonnets. You know what else I hate about poetry readings? It’s when the poet delivers what I call as soft line and some people in the audience have mini-orgasms. You know what I’m talking about. When they let out a deep mmmmmm. Or some semi-swallowing sound in the back of their throat acknowledging for all of us to hear that they got it. I really fuckin’ hate that. Good, you came. Keep it to yourself.

Tell me about the worst reading you ever went to.  Please.