1. Food and drinks were to be secured before the reading, during breaks, but not during changes in readers.
2. Cell phones were to be turned off.
3. People who did not adhere to item number 2 were to be immediately shamed by the turning of heads of all who had conformed and the silence of the reader. The ending of the shaming coincides with the reader’s continuation of the reading and the silencing of the phone.
4. No laughing during anyone’s reading, unless the writer waits awkwardly for said laughter or unless the line, word, look, tone, is supposed to be funny. Because I lack poetry skills, my cues are off. I did not laugh.
6. Enjoy yourself
7. Project your voice
8. Make eye contact (which is different from allowing your eyes to roam freely and I dare say creepily around the room)
9. Introduce yourself, these people don’t know you and even if they do—introduce yourself.
10. Please, do not introduce the piece. If it is important for listeners to know the piece is about your ex-boyfriend who deserted you on 695, dooming you to walk where no pedestrian should, as you learned the difference between the inner and outer loop: write about it (please). But, please do not tell readers this and then read a piece to which this knowledge is relevant or not relevant. If it belongs in the piece, put it in the piece.
11. When you like something about a piece, let the writer know. Encouragement is appreciated.
12. Please read your own writing.
“It wasn’t on the website,” I diplomatically replied.
I was equally surprised to learn he was not referring to his own poem.
“I could just kill him,” he said, slicked-back hair slicking.
“You’d have to write about it,” I joked, not certain he was joking.
“I wouldn’t really kill him,” he said, finally.