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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

The Reading

Here’s what I love about giving a reading – it makes me look at my work in a different way. I search out themes and rhythms, timings, flow, density and lightness. I compose. I find poems that have lain dormant and revive them, I revisit poems I think were finished and put them back in the to revise folder. I write something new to fill a space or connect two pieces. I decide to insert a short prose piece to give people a place to rest in story, and not balance on image and metaphor. I create a whole that is more than the individual pieces. In short I pay attention to my writing in a different way.

It is not just about being aware of the listener, offering a window or a door where they can comfortably enter, but rather a sense that all my scribbling, my rewriting, my capturing of a moment or an idea, belongs to a greater whole. Indeed, that I am part of a larger voice.

I am always glad of the opportunity to share my work, and grateful for a listener or reader. Attention and applause are wonderful things and I am thankful to you for them.  But what I carry away in the days after is the act of carving out time to really be present with my work, to find the cohesion in what often seems like disparate or discreet sentences, stanzas, words.

It is taking that time to honor the writing that fills me up with the energy, and the conviction to go back and sit at my desk in that open blank space with all those clamoring sounds waiting to become.

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