Last night I read my short story Kowalski at Wolverhampton’s City Voices. City Voices is run by Wolverhampton’s Literature Officer, Simon Fletcher. Simon is a writer and poet, mentor, teacher and runs Offa’s Press a small poetry press based in Shrewsbury. Simon runs a tight ship, each reader has a 15 minute slot and performs through invitation only. I’ve read here twice before, the audience has always been warm and attentive and the readers top notch. I was on first as Simon said he wanted it to start with a safe pair of hands which was very flattering.Now I’d timed my story at around 17 minutes and thought that Simon would be ok with that but he was quite firm and asked me to maybe leave something out of the story. I thought about possibly reading some shorter stories but then decided to stick to my guns and read it in full. I was a bit nervous about reading, not because I’m reserved in anyway but because this was the first time I’d ever read fiction out in public. Now I’ve previously read out quite a bit of poetry in public and I’d shared my fiction with the writing group I’m involved with but as far as I was concerned this was a step up.
The reading went well, very well. I got three or four laughs throughout the story which was excellent as it’s not a particularly comedic piece but there are touching moments of fragility within it that warrant a laugh, and a rather loud, rapturous applause at its conclusion. I was dead chuffed with the praise I received afterwards especially as it came from Simon Fletcher, Jane Seabourne and John Edgar. I think that the most important lesson I learnt from this is to believe in yourself, your material and most importantly, if you are going to run over your time slot don’t tell anyone.
On the night it was great to hear Lee Hamilton break his reading cherry, watch out for him in the future, he has a keen eye and a dry wit. Jane Seabourne is a rather wonderful poet and it’s well worth getting hold of her first collection ‘Bright Morning.’ What really made the evening for me was seeing John Edgar perform for the first time. I’ve heard John’s stories a few times on Radio Wildfire but seeing him perform in the flesh was really something. John owns the stage, he has ‘real’ presence and is totally unflappable. He was nearing the end of his first tale when someone opened the door to the bar and said, ‘Are you open?’ Without missing a beat John looked down at his fly, checked it with his hand and said, ‘No, but thanks for asking,’ brilliant.
Check out the links below for Jane and John and if you do live in the Wolverhampton area get yourself down to City Voices, you wont regret it.