I'm back from Washington, D.C., and I'm pleased to report that the Library of Congress reading went well.
We took the Metro into the city--ah, to have a public transit system that works (of course, I've been reading Washington Post stories about when it doesn't work well, but happily, we had no problems). There were no long lines waiting to get into the Library of Congress--now, you must have your belongings sent through the X-ray and you must walk through the same kind of detector as one goes through at the airport--although we didn't have to take off our shoes, jewelry, and belts, the way we must now at the airport--we gave ourselves time in case there were long lines.
The building is just gorgeous; they truly don't make buildings like that anymore. Of course, there are some other Library of Congress buildings that were built later, and they have that 60's-sterile-concrete kind of look.
Happily, my reading was in the more historic building, in a smaller room, with colonial furniture and decorations.I read first, and it went well. The other 2 poets also had good reading days. I was interested in how well our love poems worked together, as if we had planned and coordinated.
I think there were about 75 people there, and only 10-20 were there because they had a connection to the poets. There was a Congressman from Washington State and his wife. Most of the crowd seemed to be people on their lunch hours who had walked over from federal buildings as well as some retirees. Very good energy in the room.
Everyone asked me if I was nervous, but 20 years of teaching really prepares one for this kind of thing. I've had much more hostile audiences in the classroom. And even though I don't usually read my own work to students, I read work that I love better, and so it hurts more when hostile students mock the work.
All in all, it was a marvelous experience; I can't imagine how a poetry reading could have a more magnificent setting! And the audience was great, but I have yet to find a horrible audience. People who come out for a poetry reading, whether it be at the Library of Congress or a local library, are just a different breed.