Often people don’t recognize the value of their creative expression until they share it.
That’s why I host literary salons featuring my students and their work.
Something wonderful happens when you stand in front of an audience and share your creative writing. Hearing people laugh or sigh, knowing when you’ve got their attention—and when you don’t—provides invaluable information to writers. Reading in public is a great way to hone your ear and your instincts, but it also helps connect writers with readers/listeners, and hear first-hand the way(s) in which their work moves people.
I also host salons as a way of sharing and celebrating my students’ courage, talent, and growth. No one’s being judged or evaluated. We assemble in a spirit of camaraderie and fun. We eat. We drink. Students from one class listen to students from the other class read. Friends and family are invited. Or not.
The work ranges in style and subject matter. It’s funny, sad, outrageous, truthful, ballsy, imaginative, and heartfelt. My students excavate the depths and bring forward images, moments, events, and stories from their lives and from their imagination, which inspire the mind and delight the soul—though most of what my students read are works in progress. “Don’t get it right, get it written,” I tell my students, quoting James Thurber. Sure we fiddle with words once they’ve landed on the page, but perfection is not what we’re after here.
Reading for an audience offers my student the chance to stand in their truth. It’s empowering. Established and emerging writers discover strengths they didn’t know they had.
But it can also be daunting, especially when what you’re reading is intimate, or if your writing describes personal events you’ve never shared with anyone before. Here are a few tips I give my students before they read at my salons:
I’d love to hear from those of you who have attended my salons. What do you enjoy most about them? Did you read or were you a guest?
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