Kickstart my heart. Or whatever.

For those of you who do readings all of the time, how on earth do you maintain your enthusiasm? I've been doing a reading almost every week, and I'm starting to become bleary-eyed. Tonight I'm reading with some of my favorite girls in the world (Amy Bracken Sparks, Susan Grimm, Jen Sullivan, at Barnes & Noble in Fairlawn, OH, 8 pm) and I haven't even printed the poems out yet. I'm saving a bunch for my reading at Cleveland State on 4/22, and since it's at B&N I can't swear or read anything exceptionally objectionable. So that leaves me with poems from second grade, and a Shakespearean sonnet that I had to write once as a class assignment in high school.

Anyway, I'd appreciate any advice on how to get hyped up when you're reading over and over again. Please enlighten me. If there isn't a special energy drink to help with this, perhaps I'll invent one.


Yeah, it gets tiring if you schedule a bunch of readings close together. I try to spread my readings out over a year so you can treat the events as something to look forward to.

If you're "bored," read new new stuff! Open with other poets' poems! Do a poetry "sing-a-long"!
C. Dale said…
Sadly, my response is not to do a lot of readings.
Lyle Daggett said…
I've never done any acting, as such, -- though reading poems to an audience has some of the elements of what stage actors do, at any rate both involve doing something in front of people -- but I suppose staying energetic for frequent readings is similar to what stage actors do to keep the performance fresh when they do a play every night over and over. So, um, maybe track down a stage actor and ask...

A few years back I was reading fairly often in open-mike readings -- a monthly one for a couple of years, then a weekly one for another couple of years. And a couple of others once or twice a month here and there.

Gradually I started to burn out on it, even reading just two or three poems each time. Over time also I found that the people who were coming to the readings, and who were serious about it, gradually stopped showing up because they were holing up to write. Eventually I also stopped going to the open mikes.

I haven't much sought out chances to read poems. I've done, I think, three readings in the past two and a half years. I might not mind doing it a little more often than that, say four or five a year. And I might feel like doing more if I were traveling to other locations to read, though that also doesn't happen much. As things are, I'm not unhappy with how often I do readings right now.
Hi, Mary,

I like Oliver's suggestion--write some poems for the reading--and then read them with the caveat that they were written for the reading. Should break things up quite nicely :)

jeannine said…
Dear Mary,
I think mixing up your "set" a little - the same way bands do - will help a bit, make you more excited. And rememember, even if the poems aren't new to you, they're new to your audience! :)
I think the audience interaction afterwards makes it all worth while.
Oh, and reward yourself after each reading with something - a lip gloss, a new book, a bunch of Cara Cara oranges - to motivate yourself!
John Gallaher said…
I've never done a reading a week for more than two weeks before, so I don't have much to say. The easiest answer would be to not do it, but if people are asking you to read, well, that's always wonderful.

Here's some advice from the music industry (imagine how many times bands have to perfrom "that" song): Remember that just because you've done a song a million times, the audience is looking forward to you doing it. Or in the case of poetry: it might be old to you, but it's most likely new to them. There's energy in that.

WV: founke (halfway between "found" and "funk")
P. J. said…
Double cappuccino, dark chocolate pieces, double espresso. You won't remember anything, but you'll be told your reading was a doozy.
Collin Kelley said…
I also try to spread my readings out, but sometimes that is unavoidable. I try to make it fresh and read something different each time, along with newer stuff to mix it up. I also read poetry by other people. Mainly, it's just relaxing before the gig as much as possible and reminding yourself that its only 15 or 20 minutes.
Radish King said…
I took a year off completely, turned down all offers to read. Interestingly enough, it made people more interested in my work, not less, and gave me a good chance to rest (and write new work.)
Penultimatina said…
Thank you so much for all of the advice, folks! I decided not to read tonight at our semesterly open mic. Not reading made me want to read. Funny how that works.

I think I'll try your ideas, too. :)
try to get nervous, be naked, and sweat more.
mikequirk said…
That seems like a good complaint to have, though. I've never been asked to read anywhere, much less to have so many readings I lose interest.