The poetry and prose readings that I was honored to lead during the 1990’s made a big hit at local bookstores throughout northern New Jersey. Sadly, finding places for unknown writers to read their writings to the public are becoming more and more scarce.
Remembering the Poetry Readings
By Richard Mabey Jr.
From about 1993 till 1998, I taught Creative Writing classes at a local high school adult education program and also at a local college in northeast New Jersey. We would often do poetry readings at local bookstores. It was a lot of fun!
We used to do these poetry readings at both, small privately owned bookstores and those huge corporate chain bookstores. The management of both types of bookstores were always cordial and made us feel very welcome. We often got news coverage from local papers.
It was such a wonderful thing. My students had the chance to read their poems and short stories to those who came out to attend. And, I think the people who came out to attend these poetry readings had fun also. It was both fun and educational!
I live in Central Florida now. It’s a totally different scene now. There are basically no small, privately owned bookstores in the area. There are two different “trade two for one” paperback bookstores. But they don’t have enough space to set up a little area to have poetry readings.
Here’s the one that hurts. The big corporate chain bookstores now reserved their special events for big name authors, celebrities who write “tell all” books, and nationally known talk radio and television news commentators. Basically, the little guy is forgotten. The up and coming unknown writer doesn’t have a chance to get up at bat and read his or her writings in a public forum at a bookstore any more. It breaks my heart.
Oh, I know that money talks and the big bookstores are interested in making a profit, and the big name authors bring in the crowds. I got that. But, still, I truly believe that a bookstore has some social responsibility to give the unknown author a chance to have just five or ten minute to read his or her poem or story.
And, by the way, to all of the people who buy into the baloney sandwich that the big name celeb writers are the ones who bring in the people. At times, we had well over a hundred people in attendance at some of our poetry readings. But then again, Corporate America could care less about the little guy.
I don’t mean to be so harsh on Corporate America, but really, they do need to think about the little guy once in a while! Well, I guess I’ll step down from my soap box and wish all my fellow struggling writers best wishes on finding outlets to read their poems and stories.
Peace and harmony,