Last Monday, I printed out a whole slew of poems and packed Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Transcendentalist Toyota, with all manner of gluten-free foodstuffs and way too many diet caffeinated beverages. I then headed to Charleston, South Carolina, to read in the Monday Night Poetry and Music series. Listen: if you live anywhere that’s even vaguely close to Charleston, do yourself a favor and head to the East Bay Meeting House one Monday night for this. You will not regret it. And listen: if you’re a poet, you should definitely try to read in this series. It’s a very rare gift to read in front of an audience so open and accepting and so passionate about poetry. “Welcoming” and “inspiring” don’t even begin to cut it — these people are the real deal. I was so inspired by the poets who read during the open mic that I spoke three poems into my voice recorder on the way home. The audience was so supportive that I felt brave enough to share my newest work, and even read some poems no eyes other than mine have seen. It was one helluva trip, and I can’t wait to go back.
But for now, I’m going to reminisce with some photos …
Waldo, packed up and ready to go. I wasn’t kidding about the caffeinated diet beverages.
This road sign served as a reminder of why, for all its terrible and vicious faults, I love the American South so very much.
I should mention that I felt the need for much caffeine because driving in Charleston always gives me panic attacks. Thank God I didn’t have to traverse one of the many Bridges Of Fear, Anguish, And Terror this time.
Have rice cakes, will travel.
I managed to not mix up the lotion and conditioner, which may have been my greatest life achievement.
I mean, really, there’s no way to visit South Carolina and not take a palm tree silhouette picture.
Charleston’s historic district is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
I mean, SERIOUSLY.
Here’s where the reading was held. It was also the site of my favorite post-reading exchange:
Owner: I am never dating you.
Emma: That’s probably for the best.
Owner: Just how many ex-boyfriends have you killed?
Emma: Not enough. Believe me.
Inside the Meeting House — the best audience ever.
Okay, so, obviously I didn’t take this photo. I stole it from the Facebooks — thank you, Jim, for this! It’s a photograph of me reading, and it is dark and moody because I am a poet and therefore I am dark and moody.
There’s also this picture, which shows what happens every time I do a reading: I start gesticulating wildly. Usually my hands are moving so fast that it’s not visible to the naked eye. I’m pretty sure that when I read, I appear only as a blur, which is probably best for everyone.
On my drive back, I found out something I should probably never, ever have known: DIET COKE COMES IN 24 OUNCE BOTTLES. I’m sorry, kidneys. What’s done cannot be undone.
I admit it: I love rest stops. Love them. I love their pamphlets and brochures and most of all I love their vending machines, where one can obtain new caffeinated diet beverages. And they’re always so kind! Who DOESN’T want to be welcomed?
I wish I could say these were the only bottles I emptied during the trip, but alas, alas, this was only one leg of it.
Of course, my feline welcoming committee was waiting (angrily) when I returned to Belle Reve.
And the next morning I was so tired that I accidentally brushed my teeth with Clearasil instead of my travel-sized toothpaste. It tasted awful, but my teeth have never looked so fresh, clean, and clear.
And … scene.
NOTE: No Ex-Boyfriends Were Harmed During the Making of This Entry Or Reading