Monday, March 14, 2016

Reading at Queens Central Library

The library was a long way away from Manhattan. It was near the 169th Street stop on the F line. That made it further than the train stop for JFK airport. Still, I was curious to see that part of Queens, and it was very nice of Micah Eaton Zevin to invite me to read. When I walked through the front doors, the library looked like any other library. Then I took an elevator down to the basement and entered a maze of hallways looking forbiddingly institutional. When I finally entered the lecture hall, there were only a few souls there. When the open mic began, there were about 12 people scattered in the very large hall. Two young African American girls had wandered into the reading. Perhaps one of them did not wander but made it look as if she did. She signed up for the open-mic. Her friend, dressed like a boy, did not know what to make of the gathering. She told Micah that she did not like reading. When it was Girl One's turn to read, she read a sweet little poem for her tomboy companion, describing their friendship as a "miracle." Her example emboldened Girl Two, who went up the stage, got behind the podium, and read a poem from her phone. She was a natural. Speaking of their bond, she said, and I paraphrase badly, that when you cut yourself on the wrist once, I feel the cut twice. After my reading, they wandered over to me, and Girl Two asked me, are you famous? I was nonplussed and could only get out, not yet. Then, maybe in some circles. They did not look impressed or non-impressed, but just silently digested the information. I told them how much I enjoyed hearing their poems. I was very pleased when an older white woman bought my book. I am always most pleased when a stranger buys my book after hearing me read. It's one of the sincerest gestures that I know of.

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