Jan. 13: The literary journal reading

for Pat Schneider

You never Zoomed a poetry reading,
I’m sure, certainly not of the journal
you founded forty years before anyone
imagined speaking at a computer screen.
You held proper readings at the Jones
Library or the Munson, requiring
in-person attendance of readers
and listeners.

They were Events, painstakingly
planned, with a typed Reading Order
and Refreshments that you provided,
likely a Podium and Microphone.
You—MC, introducer, cheerleader,
hugger—as each reader came up,
often nervous, with you there
afterward, whispering, “Wonderful!”

Tonight we held our second virtual reading
for the 36th edition of Peregrine,
Zooming with a terrific batch of onscreen
readers from all over—among them
Kate in Wales, Bonnie in Portland, and
Ralph whose poem reflected his childhood
in Brooklyn—along with a generous
audience of listeners.

I imagined you among them, too, though
your face did not appear in a box
on my screen, though you vanished
into mystery more than two years ago.

I cannot say your name as I sing
your praises during the introduction—
as I did each time you came to speak
and lead workshops in my town—
without sensing your steady presence
as I metaphorically step to the virtual
microphone, read what I have written,
only to step away and hear you in my ear:

“Wonderful, honey. Nicely done.”

(Special thanks to all the folks published in Peregrine, the Amherst Writers & Artists journal, especially those who read at our two virtual readings, to Danielle McKinney, our MC, and to Sue Reynolds, whose fine leadership and sweet praise will stay with me. And, of course, to AWA founder Pat Schneider, whose work we carry on with great love and much enthusiasm.)

About janishaag

Writer, writing teacher, editor
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