“Distinguished Poet Mary Ruefle has published 11 collections of poetry. She has also received many honors, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Whiting Award.”
I hope I referenced that all correctly. It was my first “Writing Now, Reading Now” event to attend and the only thing I knew was that I was to hear a “distinguished poet” read her own writings. I didn’t know who she was, never read any of her works, and I had detailed conversation with her (not knowing she was who she was) at the reception, prior to the Reading, about hipsters, Bukowski and English Majors attending the event for credit.
I purchased two books: Trances of the Blast and The Most of It, at the front of the recption area, hoping I could get the author’s signature after the Reading.
Then imagine my mortification when we all sat and the same lady I had been critiquing the hors d’oeuvres
with took the podium. She insisted there would be no introduction prior and no question and answer portion after. Fantastic! I’ll try to sneak out when she finishes. I listened and tried not to make further eye contact.
During the Reading though I learned why reading is a solitary type of pleasure. I didn’t like the way she read it. Why was she using that tone? I think I would’ve liked it better as I would have read it. So, I realized, once you publish something, you sort of just give it away. It detaches from your voice and takes the voice of the next owner.
I went home to read my new books trying to keep her voice separate from my voice. But you know what proves a good book? The number of dog ears you end up with. I do believe you will find me quoting some of her prose and poems someday.
Yes, I stuck around to get my books signed. I’m glad I did.