Tomorrow night’s Riggio Honors Program: Writing and Democracy student reading is the last chance this fall to hear the words being written by your peers.
Over the last couple of years within the Riggio program, I have both read my work and actively avoided reading publicly. I used to balk at the idea of leaving the quiet and safety of my desk. I wanted to write, not read aloud. And even after many readings—student, thesis, 12th Street launch parties—I can still feel my voice shake for at least the first page and a half.
In the past two weeks, querying my fellow students as to whether or not they would be reading tomorrow night, I have heard all the familiar reasons they will not be reading. I say “familiar,” as they used to belong to me.
Adrián Jiménez (A.J. to most), last year’s editor-In-chief, used to write something brand new the afternoon of a reading explicitly for the occasion. I found the thought terrifying. The idea of having such a comfortable relationship with my words so quickly seemed a nightmare. At that point, I saw standing at the podium in front of the audience as a moment of judgment, so how could I possibly read words that I had only judged myself for a few hours?
Then I looked around the room. Most everyone else was as nervous as I was, and these were my peers. I remembered Douglas Martin relaying a story to me of his college days, when he would take his required texts out of the library. The story ended with his professor asking the class, “If you don’t buy books as writers yourselves, how can you ever expect someone else to buy yours?” That may be a roundabout way of telling my larger point: a vibrant and healthy writing community is built from within.
So tomorrow night I will be reading something, perhaps words I have yet to write. And I hope to see a lot of you, the Riggio community, there as well, as readers, listeners or both. All the info was in last week’s Riggio newsletter and you can still sign up to read if you e-mail Luis. See you there!
Room 510 @ 66 West 12th Street, 6:30 PM