It's WORDHARVEST week! Over the next few days, I'll be posting micro interviews with the readers. First up is University of Illinois MFA alum and author of No Animals We could Name, Ted Sanders.
Ninth Letter: How do you prepare for a reading? Any pre-show rituals?
Ted Sanders: My major preps are making sure the piece is the right length--which I have down pretty scientifically by now--and then lint-brushing the cat hair off my front. Otherwise I'm pretty anti-ritual. I probably have some displays of fussiness of which I'm largely unaware.
9L: When deciding which material to read, do you try to anticipate or take into account how the audience might react to what you read based on the event or venue?
TS: Yes, I guess I do, but prefer to read stuff that's totally new. If I don't have that, I pick something that I know is likely to go over well for almost any audience there might be. Readings generally happen either in the quarantined quiet of the bookstore/academic scene or in the greater chaos of a bar. Generally I'd say the thoughtfulness or delicacy of what I choose to read is inversely proportional to both noise and alcohol levels. Bars are more likely to get the cussier, funnier stuff, though I don't always have something like that lying around, so sometimes the bar gets something too pompous, maybe, for the surroundings.
9L: What's one of your favorite moments from a reading, either yours or one you've attended?
TS: Oh, man. Seems like this could get me into trouble somehow, since for me "memorable" usually translates to "cringe-worthy." I'll confess I've not been able to completely shed the sight and sound of Patrick Lane, former grad student in the MFA here, try to read a story while playing his accordion. This was a thematic thing. Like, I think there was ambient accordion music in the story. But he hadn't really rehearsed the multi-tasking, wasn't really prepared for the complexity of the physical deed, and so it ended of being kind of awkward and earnest and plumply sweaty. Which now that I think of it, is probably not a bad thing to shoot for.
WORDHARVEST is this Saturday, September 29 at 4pm at Cowboy Monkey in Champaign, IL. Hope to see you there!