Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Explanation Promised and Delivered

74º ~ yup, you read that right, 74º at 5 p.m. on Nov. 10.  You gotta love the south!

About a month ago, Kristin asked me to explain how my trip to Columbia, MO, to visit Steph K's Intro to Poetry class and read for Hearing Voices came about.  I'll do just about anything to avoid grading right now, so here's the promised explanation, delivered.

It goes back to last spring or early summer and involves a bit of luck and a bit of bravery.  I happened to be on Facebook at the exact moment that Steph posted a status update asking for title suggestions for her Intro to Poetry class.  Now, I'm a hit or miss FB participant, so it was sheer luck that I saw this update.  Then came the bravery.  I'd known Steph through FB and had met her very briefly at AWP in Denver in April.  I took a deep breath and wrote her an email offering her a free exam copy of Blood Almanac and the incentive that if she adopted it I would be glad to drive up and meet her class for free.  Columbia, MO is about a six and a half hour drive, fitting into a trip I could work into my teaching schedule with missing only one day of class and not having to buy a plane ticket.  The book adoption is a huge boost even if the class isn't large, so I wasn't too worried about not getting paid, and I knew I could crash on someone's couch and not have to pay for a hotel either.  

This really did take an amazing amount of bravery on my part.  I'd never put myself out there like that before and I wasn't sure how my offer would be received.  Luckily, Steph zipped an email back with her postal address and off I sent the book.  A few weeks later Steph emailed to let me know she wanted to use the book and she'd love for me to come visit.  In early August we took a look at our calendars and settled on a date.  This is when Steph proposed trying to get me on the calendar for Hearing Voices.  She did this on her own because she is just about the most awesome poet person I know and wants to champion other poets all day long.  So, through her contact at Hearing Voices, we set up the reading as well.

Luck and bravery won out.  I know I need to be more of my own advocate in arranging events like this and I am trying.  I'd encourage anyone else to make offers like mine to friends in academia or who run a reading series.  The kicker is usually money, so if you're a cheap date like me, you might have better luck.  The worst anyone can say is no, which is true for so many opportunities in this world.


Kristin Berkey-Abbott said...

How brave you are! Tomorrow I plan to write a similar blog post, about ways to pitch a reading to your friends and colleagues who don't teach creative writing classes but who teach a variety of other classes (for instance, I visited a friend's Brit Lit survey class to be guest poet).

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kristin, great idea! I look forward to reading the post.

Anonymous said...

The kicker usually is money -- bravo to you, Sandy, for having the courage to put yourself out there, and for your flexibility, too -- that can make all the difference in the world!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Yes, Marie, too bad so many of my poet-friends live outside drivable distances! Thanks for the kind words.