What’s a House Reading?
A house reading is having a performance poet in your living room, performing for your friends. It’s like a house concert, but with a poet. It can be a way to encourage skeptical friends to give poetry a chance, an affordable and unusual kind of entertainment for a party (or an excuse to throw a party), or a fun way for a book group or writing workshop to have a poet come to them.
Here’s how it works: The host gathers at least six people in his/her living room. Attendees chip in a modest amount ($2-5 each) to help cover my transportation costs. (Sometimes the host covers this instead.) I usually perform a 30 to 50 minute set, and then hang out and chat with the group for as long as they want, but each one is a little different.
I can do themed sets if desired (religion/biblical, urban living, politics of resistance, sexuality/sexual orientation, environment, pick another and see if I can accommodate).
I started house readings in part because I’ve found that there are a lot of people out there who end up enjoying hearing some poetry performed, but are hesistant about attending a non-academic poetry event because that often means sitting through an open mic of unpredictable quality, spending time in a smoky bar, or just committing a whole evening to a several-hours-long event. (Open mics are great, but they’re not always the thing to introduce people to contemporary poetry with.) I wanted to give these potential poetry-lovers a venue in which to check it out.
If you’re interested in hosting something like this, or just want to know more about it, let me know at miriam (at) mjoy (dot) org.
At the moment I’m primarily only able to travel for one of these within the U.S. Northeast, but I do travel for work regularly, so if you’re somewhere else in the United States, you can always ask! You never know.